An introduction to Pilates

Posted on Aug 12 2014 - 12:32pm by Tamzon Mcfayden
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Pilates Tamzon is the pilates instructor and one of the fitness specialists with Eden. With 25 years in the fitness industry as a personal trainer- specialising in special needs; medical disorders; sport specific injuries; postural correction; step and aerobic dance as well as previously owning her own gyms in Botswana and Zimbabwe. Tamzon can also back up her wealth of experience with qualifications such as being an academic trainer in the Diploma in Exercise Science for The Health and Fitness Professionals of South Africa with an Academy in Botswana and Zimbabwe as well as Pilates Instructor Level 1 and 2. In my recent sessions Tamzon has been introducing me to Joe Pilates – The New York Method Pilates, which is a mind-body connection and is perfect for rehabilitation of most injuries, medical disorders and postural correction. Her wealth of experience and expertise, full equips Tamzon with the understanding and know how for appropriate, supportive and engaging pilates sessions.

Pilates is known to have many health benefits and there have been numerous articles and studies in this specialism. Namely, it enhances lung capacity, circulation, nerve innervation, musculoskeletal discomfort and as it works the deep core muscles it prepares the body for the degenerative ageing process. Whilst having so many anatomical and physiological benefits it will also tone and strengthen the body.

Pilates requires control and a mind-body connection to improve the body’s mechanics and posture. It maximizes the relative arrangement of the body parts in any position allowing the muscles to function with maximum efficiency. Poor posture actually increases the strain on the body parts and supporting structures. Pilates will re-balance the body, altering muscle recruitment, restoring natural and normal movement patterns.

This may be done with static and dynamic muscle contractions using minimum energy for the maintenance of good body alignment.

The Benefits of Pilates include;

  • Freedom of movement
  • Increased muscle function and circulation
  • Increased range of motion at the joint
  • Pain relief
  • Minimises stress and strain on the joints and connective tissues
  • Increases balance, spatial awareness and coordination
  • Ensures correct muscle balance between anterior / posterior and proximal / distal muscle groups

Pilates will

  • Increase the strength length and flexibility of the muscle
  • Train muscles to stabilise body parts against gravity
  • Train muscles to mobilise body parts against gravity

The principles of Pilates are as follows training

  • Relax
  • Concentrate
  • Visualise
  • Centre
  • Control
  • Precision
  • Flowing movements
  • Breathing
  • Alignment

There are many conditions which can be helped and benefited by with Pilates but clients must be monitored intensely. It is therefore essential to inform your practitioner of any existing medical conditions/concerns. The below are examples of contraindications where Pilates could be beneficial;

  • Arthritis – Inflammation of articulating area
  • Osteo Arthritis – Degenerative wear and tear.
  • Chronic fatigue – Energy deficit leading to complete exhaustion
  • Fibromyalgia – Pain in muscles, tendons, ligaments (joints)
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament injuries – Trauma
  • Facet Joint Syndrome – Connections between vertebra ( facets ) become inflamed
  • Total Hip Replacement – Change of musculature
  • Osteoporosis – Decreased oestrogen – decreased bone density
  • Peripheral Neuropathy – Numbness, tingling, diminished sensation
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis – Auto immune – hyper joint flexibility
  • Adhesive Capulitis – Frozen shoulder – impingement
  • Carpel Tunnel Syndrome – Trapped nerve / hand or wrist
  • Rotator Cuff Impingement – Tight rotator cuff muscles – SITTS

Having attended my first session with Tamzon at Eden, I can honestly say it was the safest I felt in attending a group session. Recognising me as a new member, Tamzon and I discuss any potential ailments or illnesses that may impact on my ability to perform in the class- going into further detail where there are any concerns. Throughout the session Tamzon was observant in my attempts of the stretches and exercises we were undertaking (I say attempting because I am so stiff at the moment, a few of them were quite challenging), correcting any techniques to ensure I was executing the movement to a). maximise the benefit from the stretch/position and b). to ensure I was doing it in the safest possible manor. Moreover, even at a distance, Tamzon could indicate and diagnose points of constriction in movement because of my previous/existing lifestyle- of which I am assured can be corrected. However, it is highlighting to me the potential such existing lifestyle patterns/postural shape could effect my ability to move (including walking) in later life that spurs me on during my session. Something I still resonate with today as I look in the mirror, sit at my computer (ensuring my shoulders are back and back is straight) and even in the way my muscles feel the morning after- which ache in places I never knew existed!

Eden Main

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