A strong core is so much more than sculpted abs. Pilates recognizes the body as an integrated whole, not isolated parts of the body to train separately. In fact, every Pilates exercise uses the core muscles in some way. The core – all its thirty-five total muscle groups – is our center that connects our whole self. A weak core can cause a myriad of health issues such as back pain, poor posture and even injuries. At Sheppard Method Pilates, our Westwood team can help you address issues related to a weak core and begin your regular Pilates practice to strengthen your core muscles, no matter what level of experience you have.
Are you ready to reap the many benefits of a strong core through Pilates training? Contact the Westwood Pilates instructors at Sheppard Method Pilates to discuss how we can help you start your Pilates practice. Schedule your first class now!
Understanding Your Core Muscles
Think of the core as the body’s center connecting point where your pelvis, spine, hips, and upper body meet. The core consists of seven major muscle groups: the rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis, erector spinae, multifidus, obliques, pelvic floor, and diaphragm. All of your core’s muscle groups work together to keep your torso upright and bear the load for your spine to protect it. Because the function of the core is to stabilize your spine, thorax and pelvis during movement, minor muscle groups in the core include the lats, traps, and even the glutes.
Essentially, your core muscles are responsible for dynamic movement transfer throughout your entire body. For example, your hip flexors are attached to the spine and bring your legs and trunk together in movement, and your glutes are responsible for extending your hips. A weak core means disjointed movement, limited range of motion, and therefore, potential injury. As Pilates trains the body by strengthening through muscle balancing, we can understand core strength as the foundation of movement and the center of our Pilates practice.
How Pilates Strengthens Your Core
When we only target one area of the abdominals, we fail to reach optimal strength and harmony. Pilates reimagines your core as a powerhouse – the center of the body responsible for movement, stability, and balance. When the core is strong, the frame of the body is supported to encourage good posture. The better your posture, the more relaxed your neck and extremities are, putting less stress and tension into their functions and preventing discomfort and injury. It is no wonder that the alleviation of back pain is one of the most commonly cited advantages of regular Pilates practice!
Pilates involves a large variety of exercises to strengthen, stabilize, and enhance the endurance of the core muscles. In fact, one study showed that practicing two-hour-long Pilates each week for twelve weeks improved abdominal strength and upper back posture. A regular Pilates practice will incorporate core strengthening through a variety of repetitive movements, and there are several core-activating specific Pilates exercises that you can incorporate into your daily regimen, each designed to challenge the core differently. Mastering Pilates movements will help you develop a strong, stable foundation from which to better perform other exercises and transfer power and energy safely and efficiently.
Benefits of a Strong Core
In Pilates, deep core strength is necessary for maintaining balanced harmony. When you strengthen your entire core, you may experience:
- Better overall stability and balance
- Injury rehabilitation and prevention
- Quicker pace and more endurance when running
- Increased loading with weight training
- Better posture
- Decrease in back pain
- Stronger stabilizer muscles
- Leaner abdominal circumference
- Healthy and flexible spine
- Stronger pelvic floor
- Enhanced Flexibility
- Improved breathing and focus
- Increased body awareness
- Overall efficient movement patterns
There is no quick fix or targeted regimen that can surface six-pack abs. However, by engaging all of the muscle groups within the entire core – your powerhouse center – through regular Pilates practice, you may find it is not your main goal in exercise. Pilates can help develop balanced muscles and strength through regular deep core conditioning that reverberates balance and harmony throughout your entire body.
Incorporate Pilates Into Your Exercise Regimen and Reach Your Movement Goals Through Core Strength
Call the Westwood Pilates instructors at Sheppard Method Pilates to discuss how we can help you include Pilates in your exercise regimen so you can reap the many benefits of developing a strong core and improved posture. Schedule your class now!