Pilates and your bones
Pilates isn’t just about flexibility and toning, it can play a critical role in keeping your bones healthy too. It is world osteoporosis day today, and we take a look behind the curtain to see why it can be so effective for strengthening your bones.
Contrary to what many people might think, it isn’t always a soft form of exercise. It can be a tough and demanding process that really challenges the body. In fact, Joseph Pilates (Pilates inventor) came from a very physical world, having previously been a circus performer, boxer and self-defence instructor.
What is osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis occurs when your bones lose density through loss of bone material. When it occurs, the bones become more prone to fracturing. Although this thinning of the bones mainly affects the older generation, it is a condition that can set in at any age.
The word’s literal meaning is “porous bones”, and Osteoporosis has the effect of weakening the bones themselves. Bones are made up of living tissue consisting of collagen fibres and minerals. As you grow up bones are continually developing, but after the age of approximately 35, the bone mass tends to decrease.
This thinning of the bones can affect men and women alike, but it is more common in women. This is especially noticeable during the menopause when estrogen levels start to decline.
More about Pilates
If you haven’t tried it before you might not understand what it involves. Many people look upon it as a glorified session of legs, bums and tums, but Pilates is a sophisticated and well thought out form of exercise, that was originally intended as a form of rehabilitation.It is like a fusion of callisthenics, yoga and ballet.
There are two main ways of practising Pilates, either in a class-based environment done in free form on mats. Or alternatively, it can be done in specialised studios with a range of specifically designed machines to enhance the benefits.
Each exercise is designed to make the maximum use of your time. A key goal is to target the deep postural muscles of the body. Pilates is known for having great benefits for posture and your core.
How Pilates helps
The key aspect of the exercises is that they are weight-bearing. Weight-bearing exercises are fantastic for strength and are a big part of how bones develop in the first place.
The exercises are challenging and help build muscle mass. This allows the body to better support bones that have weakened due to osteoporosis. Done well, Pilates will help with balance and alignment. This is vital in helping to prevent falls which can be very problematic for osteoporosis sufferers.
Improving posture and alignment is also of paramount importance in helping to avoid pinched nerves and muscle spasms.
All in all, it is a very useful intervention for dealing with the condition. However, not all centres or classes can cater for you. You need to find a reliable studio with trained instructors who are well versed in modifying the exercises in an appropriate way.