Why Is Pilates So Good for Core Strength?
Almost all of our everyday movements – from sitting in a chair at your desk, to bending down to tie your shoelaces, to vacuuming, to just standing still – all utilise a key group of muscles called your core.
Also known as your trunk or what you may think of as ‘abs,’ the core’s role is less about strength or explosive power and more about stability and endurance – you rely on your core to hold your body upright, to help you turn, to sit up and so much more.
So, what does Pilates have to do with your core? As it happens, the relationship between the two is closer than you may think. Almost every Pilates movement involves bracing and engaging your core to complete correctly.
What exactly is the core?
While you may think of a strong core and picture someone with washboard abs, it’s a much more complex muscle group.
Your core muscles surround your body’s trunk, providing stability as you move. Consisting of your diaphragm, pelvic floor, Transverse Abdominus (the deepest abdominal muscle) and multifidus (the deepest back muscles), your core helps to prepare and protect your pelvis and spine for movement.
Though many of us have solid core strength, we often see a correlation between poor posture and clients who struggle with the timing and engagement of the core. There’s a difference!
Pilates can help to form that mind-muscle connection, making you more aware of how your core is engaged in each movement and stabilising those deep muscles needed for optimal training.
What are the drawbacks of a weak core?
When you continually fail to engage the core in movement, you begin to overcompensate with other muscles, such as your back or knees. This can increase your likelihood of injury, making it more challenging to correctly engage your core in the future.
Research has shown that pain or injury can inhibit the activation of the core muscles, interrupting the messages between your brain and your core. When this occurs, you could do hours upon hours of strength training and see no improvement in your core strength until you address your issues with core engagement.
What role does Pilates play in improving my core engagement?
The best progress in core strength comes not from hundreds of sit-ups but from an active focus on the awareness of your core muscles and how to correctly activate them for each movement.
This can often be more said than done, as it can be hard to unlearn the movement patterns we develop subconsciously. That’s why it’s crucial to create new designs, committing these to your muscle memory which will, in turn, help you to improve your overall core stability and strength.
The good news – almost every Pilates movement engages your core in some way, from activities that work these muscles directly to more dynamic exercises that utilise multiple muscle groups at once.
Not only does Pilates require you to become more aware of your movements and which muscles you’re using for each one, but it also places a heavy emphasis on breathwork and coordinating this with your core muscle contractions.
This constant connection between your mind, breathing, and core muscles will form a meaningful relationship that you’ll draw on daily – not just in your Pilates practice!
Why not book your first class and experience the benefits of Pilates for yourself? Find your ideal class fit by completing our quiz or check out our timetable here.