Although it is hotly debated whether or not stretching helps prevent injury, the other benefits of stretching are numerous and so important. Heavily utilized in Pilates and Yoga, stretching is widely supported today as a vital part of fitness. With the ability to reduce stress, ease lower back pain, increase flexibility and more, stretching should become a part of everyone’s not only exercise, but daily routine.
- Increased Circulation
Stretching pre-exercise has been proven to increase circulation. Although stretching does not necessarily directly prevent injury from overuse, it does increase the blood flow and supply of nutrients to muscles and cartilage. This reduces muscle soreness after working out. The less sore your muscles are, the less painful it will be to work the same muscles and to exercise in general, and the more comfortable your day-to-day life will be.
There are four types of overall fitness: aerobic, muscular, body composition and flexibility. The main way to increase your flexibility is by stretching. As you age, your muscles gradually become shorter and tighter, reducing your overall flexibility. This restriction makes you more susceptible to muscle, tendon and joint injuries. Stretching is primarily responsible for increasing flexibility, and reduces these risks. Increased flexibility also allows you to exercise more easily.
- Increased Range of Motion
Stretching has been shown to effectively increase range of motion in joints. Better range of motion enables you to keep better balance. Better balance means you are less susceptible to falls, resulting injuries (of particular importance as you age). Increased range of motion also helps to keep you up and moving.
- Reduce Stress
Everyone has stress. Everyone is constantly looking for new methods of relief. Stress causes your muscles to contract, becoming tense. This tension can have negative effects on just about every part of your body. Gentle stretching can relax tense muscles associated with stress. Also, since stretching is an exercise, it has the same endorphin-boosting effects, improving your mood and the way you feel in general.
- Alleviate Lower Back Pain
Millions of people struggle with chronic lower back pain. Stretching, and in particular Pilates is an excellent way to strengthen the lower back muscles, alleviating soreness and pain. Since many muscles (quadriceps, hamstrings, lower back muscles and hip flexors) contribute to your posture, stretching these muscles has the ability to greatly reduce or eliminate lower back pain.
So how can Pilates help you?
Pilates has so many benefits, the list is endless, from stretching and flexibility to toning and strengthening and breathing techniques for asthmatics, it is suitable and beneficial to everyone, men, women, athletes and the elderly.
Pilates exercises help both men and women of all ages develop optimal strength, flexibility, endurance and posture, without building bulk or stressing joints. The perfect complement to cardiovascular exercise, athletic training or rehabilitation, Pilates helps you tone your body, feel revitalised, and move with ease on a daily basis.
Pilates is also a de-stressing mind-body exercise system designed to strengthen the weak and challenge the strong. The Pilates method focuses attention on core postural muscles that help keep the human body balanced and provide support for the spine. In particular, Pilates exercises teach awareness of breath and of alignment of the spine, and strengthens the deep torso and abdominal muscles.
Pilates for Back Pain
When your core is strong, posture improves, relieving stress on the joints and muscles. This is one of the reasons Pilates is often recommended for back pain issues. Increased flexibility, muscle tone, and balance also improve with regular practice.
With regular Pilates practice you can expect an increase in strength, flexibility, mobility, balance and body awareness, as well as a decrease in back pain or other general pains. It’s recommended that you practice at least two to three times per week.
Pilates for Sports
Pilates will also help you with your other sports activities – it will help you ski better, enhance your golf swing, run faster and cycle longer – or do any daily activity better. It is an ideal form of conditioning for other sports and helps you to stay injury free and strong.
Whether you’re an elite athlete or a complete beginner, you can benefit from the Pilates Method. As Pilates is a non-impact resistance workout, it enables you to exercise whilst minimizing stress on your joints so Pilates is a safe, versatile and effective method for a range of fitness goals.