Horizon Health’s Caroline Bradley explains how this low-impact exercise can strengthen muscles and improve postural alignment and flexibility to benefit general fitness and overall well-being.

Why Pilates?
Pilates is a non-invasive, low gravity movement with an emphasis on core strength and a concentration on posture, balance and flexibility. Pilates is a great way to strengthen and stabilise the body from the inside out and is used worldwide by most athletes for performance power, injury prevention or injury recovery.

How can Pilates help prevent injuries as well as heal?
Pilates exercises balance out your muscles and improve alignment which helps prevent injuries. A frequent cause of injury is overuse of the same muscles. For example, if you play a sport you will generally use the same muscles throughout that form of movement over and over. What Pilates can do is balance out the muscles you are overusing to prevent injuries and support your body. Take a runner for example, their muscle groups are generally focused on quadriceps and gluteus so to balance out these muscles from overworking, we would strengthen the opposite muscles, hamstrings and abdominals.

Pilates aims to correct the tight muscles by loosening them and strengthen the loose muscles. We are just really balancing out how your body’s muscles are functioning and teaching them to continue to support your body’s skeleton correctly.

How does Pilates work for injury recovery?
At Horizon Health we use the Reformer and Cadillac Pilates equipment to help support your body’s weight and create a low gravity environment. By adding low resistance movement and concentrating on specific body parts, we can do targeted strength training, thereby targeting appropriate muscle groups for slow and steady recovery.

What are the most common injuries that you have seen, and how does Pilates help heal them?
The most common injuries we deal with are hip replacements; disc, shoulder, knee issues; post-pregnancy pelvic floor and diastasis recti. We help these issues through mobilisation, stabilisation and the circulation of joints. We also get lots of clients coming in because they are in pain, either upper back or lower back pain, neck and shoulder or knee and hip pain. Pilates emphasises both stabilisation and mobilisation of the joint whilst lengthening the muscles which helps relieve pain in the body.

How long does it take to see and feel results? 
Everybody is different. You must learn the correct way to move your body through the Pilates principles in order to start to see the results. We generally say you feel it in 5 classes, you see it in 10 classes and others see it in you in 20 classes. You should expect your posture to improve, your deep abdominals to become stronger and your shape to change over time.

For those of us who sit at a desk all day and experience back pain, how can Pilates help? 
If you sit for long periods of time your body will be affected in various ways: your lower back will become weaker and crunched over, your glutes can stop firing (working), and your hip flexors tighten. On the Reformer we can work your body to strengthen the abdominals and the glutes while getting you to mobilise your back to relieve any stiffness. Lower back pain is often due to either weak abdominals, tight hamstrings or tight glutes. Tightness in the body is normally a sign of weakness in the stabilising muscles, so we strengthen the weak stabilising muscles whilst lengthening the tight muscles to relieve your pain. It’s pretty straightforward for us to get clients out of pain if it is just due to sitting for long periods of time at computers.

Can Anyone Do Pilates?
Yes! Because Pilates can be modified to provide either a gentle strength training programme or a challenging workout, most people can enjoy this form of exercise. It is suitable both for beginners and for people who already exercise regularly. Pilates can improve your posture, balance, muscle tone, flexibility, reduce stress and give you a general sense of well-being.

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Horizon Health is Bermuda’s primary boutique Pilates and Corrective Movement studio. They offer private and group classes to meet the varied needs for each client. Chancery Hall, Ground Floor, 52 Reid Street, Hamilton – 293-1687 – info@horizonhealthbermuda.com