Improve Your Quality of Life with Pilates
Pilates, the physical fitness system created by Joseph Pilates in the 1930s, has been popular in the US for many years. Recently its popularity worldwide has grown quickly and Singapore is no exception. In the last five years, Pilates has grown rapidly here, with classes being conducted in parks, gyms, community centres and offices, as well as fully-equipped studios.
This growth can be attributed to its versatility and the creativity of the exercises or ‘movements’, as Pilates’ teachers prefer to call them. Pilates can easily be adapted, from people with no exercise experience to high performing athletes like marathon runners, tennis players or golfers.
I started practicing Pilates after suffering chronic shoulder pain due to long hours spent at the computer. The pain affected my quality of life – I couldn’t focus on my job, had fears that it might affect my career and I couldn’t enjoy fun times with friends and family.
Although I tried alternative treatments to relieve the pain, it was through the practice and education of being a Pilates teacher that I understood the leading cause of the problem and could manage it successfully.
Ron Fletcher, the American Pilates Master Teacher and student of Joseph Pilates said, “ Movement is Life. Life is Movement” and I strongly believe our quality of movement is synonymous with our quality of life.
Today’s technologies may have greatly improved our lives but they have significantly changed the way we use or underuse our body, with negative consequences. It’s very common today to see people with forward head posture and rounded shoulders – the result of spending long hours at the computer, on the phone or hunched over a tablet. Recent research in Britain suggests that UK adults spend more time on media devices than sleeping and this is probably true in Singapore too.
Poor posture can affect our ability to balance. Simple balance is the ability to get up from a chair, stand and walk without a problem. Poor posture means some muscles are tight and some muscles are weak, which may not allow individuals to react well when faced with uneven terrain. This can result in falls and injuries such as sprained ankles and wrists or broken bones. Balance is even more critical for older people. There are significant risks for older people when they fall as they may suffer a fractured hip, wrist or elbow which may take longer to heal. And often after a fall, a cycle of fear can prevent an individual from moving normally, affecting their quality of life.
In recent times, sitting too much is sometimes known as a sitting disease? It’s not just a syndrome for the elderly. In today’s world, most of us are sitting too much – driving to the office, at the office, driving home and then in front of the television at home. On MRT trains people are seen scrambling for seats, even after spending so many hours sitting in the office.
We lose flexibility and mobility in our hip joints when we sit too much. The hip joint allows us to walk, run and jump. It is one of the more mobile joints in our body. Having good hip mobility allows us to move well, preventing too much wear and tear thus reducing the risk of hip replacement and other joint problems in later life.
Pilates training is used to retrain your muscles to gain a better posture and to improve flexibility and mobility in all joints. For clients with posture problems and poor hip mobility, it’s important to stretch out front chest muscles, strengthen upper back muscles and retrain shoulder joint movement. For improved hip mobility, Pilates exercises stretch tight muscles, build strength and practice hip joint movement to increase flexibility.
All Pilates exercises can be adapted to different levels of fitness and strength, with the common philosophy being that movement is life, so we need to keep moving to stay healthy.
For free videos of Pilates training, go to http://pilatesdaily.net
LayYong has been practicing and teaching Pilates for over nine years and is co-founder of Pilates BodyTree® Singapore. In July 2014, PBT opened an affiliate studio in Jakarta, Indonesia.
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