Pilates - More harm than good?

Yes, more harm and very little good with Pilates

Ouch! I look at this and cringe. Look at the U-shaped flexion she is creating with this popular movement.  She is placing herself in the exact position we call "upper cross syndrome" or "forward head posture".

I will begin with a little background I have with Pilates.  I took a certification program a few years back to see what all the fuss was about and found myself confused by the exercises. They were completely foreign to me in that, they were opposite to everything I have ever learned about human performance and function.  I remember the instructor (owner of the certification program) telling me that I must not be doing it right if I was not sweating. I then began to tell her that I normally play catch with heavy medicine balls while standing on a Swiss ball; so don't expect me to break a sweat from this simply movement.

I will try to tread lightly on this topic being that it is a popular form of exercise that has been "Americanized" to death.  What I mean is that what may have started as a great thing is now used and abused throughout the fitness industry.  I will begin with the idea behind "isolation" of muscle.  To isolate a muscle is initially a good thing when you are rehabilitating someone into better form and function.  What is missing with Pilates, is "integration".  Integration is simply putting movement back into full range of motion using all muscles as a collective unit.  95% of Pilates is flexion based movement (going towards fetal position). With that tremendous imbalance, your extension will lack, not only range of motion, but strength and stability. 

Another misunderstanding is that "Pilates lengthens all your muscles".  If that were true, all your joints would stop working correctly because we need an equally opposing length-tension relationship on every joint in the human body.  What that means is, if you lengthen one muscle, it's opposing muscle must shorten (Shorten your abdominal flexion chain, your erector spinae muscles must lengthen to match the relationship). 

I personally love Pilates for my business, but hate it as a one size fits all approach to wellness.  The reason I love it for my business is that I get all their broken and dysfunctional fall-out clients who need rehabilitation from all the repetitive flexion chain movements.  I just hope that one day, everyone will grasp the idea of eating for their metabolic type, doing only enough exercise that they can balance out with non-exercise, and have enough quiet time to allow the body to rest and recover.

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