Want to be bikini ready for summer with a flatter and tighter tummy? Find out how to target your core with Pilates - without breaking a sweat. Brooke Williams from Back in Motion provides her insight.
When the warmer weather rolls in, we may find ourselves striving towards achieving a flatter and toned stomach but looking great is not the only benefit of a strong and healthy core.
Poor core strength has been shown to potentially lead to various health issues including incontinence, increased risk of injury, lower back pain and hernias.
Your core is actually more than a ‘six-pack’. It made up of a number of different groups of muscles that surround your body - located in the diaphragm, the abdomen, in your back, and in your pelvic floor. Together these muscles form a central cylinder that works together to ensure that we remain upright and can carry out a full range of motion.
We all know that traditional ‘sit-ups’ can help you achieve a tighter abdominal wall and that elusive six-pack, but strengthening the entire core takes a little more.
One of the best ways to really target your tummy muscles and achieve an iron-clad core is Pilates.
Pilates has gathered popularity in recent years as it’s an excellent way to work on and improve core muscles and stability.
You may already be familiar with mat Pilates, most often undertaken in a gym or at home. However my speciality lies in a second form of Pilates known as clinical Pilates.
Pilates works around the principle of maintaining good postural control throughout a series of movements. It does this by keeping your core muscles working at all times. It is ideal for all ages, sizes, and levels of fitness and is a low impact exercise that does not put too much stress on our joints.
If you’re going to try Pilates at home, there are a few things to keep in mind:
1. Find the Neutral Spine: Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet on the floor. Roll the pelvic bones forwards or backwards, aiming to arch the lower back just a little so that there is a slight space between the floor and your back. It is in this position that our muscles work the best, and you are far more likely to get more benefits out of doing Pilates exercises with a neutral spine.
2. Don’t Hold Your Breath! An essential component of Pilates is maintaining your breathing throughout the exercises. This stops muscles from bracing and tensing unnecessarily which is counterproductive
3. Don’t Be Discouraged: If repetitions are too difficult build your tolerance up with less reps.
A six pack may be your desired result and the gratification that you need for all your hard work, but Pilates will ensure you get a strong stomach inside and out which will help support the rest of your body and its movements.
If you are unsure if Pilates is for you, you may like to consult your physiotherapist. They will be able to tailor a program to your circumstances. If you have sustained an injury recently, you may want to consider clinical Pilates over the more traditional mat Pilates for more targeted results.
Brooke Williams is a Physiotherapist and a Director of Director of Back In Motion. She has extensive experience in the this field and now treats men, women and children who suffer from all forms of incontinence, pelvic organ prolapse, pelvic pain and post pelvic surgery disorders.