Using a Pilates reformer bed can dramatically improve your posture, leaving you standing tall and reducing the risks of musculoskeletal problems. By strengthening your core muscles, you will improve posture and give your spine the support it needs. This in turn will help you stay pain-free.
Government figures show that 28% of work-related illnesses last year were caused by musculoskeletal disorders, with keyboard work and awkward or tiring positions being cited as the main causes. The good news is that the number of people suffering from musculoskeletal disorders is lower than in the early 2000s. The reasons for this aren’t specified, but contributing factors have to include the growing awareness of the health-related problems caused by our sedentary lifestyles – poor posture being one of those problems – and our increasing willingness to take action to prevent any issues.
The person who invented the core-strengthening exercises we know as Pilates was Joseph Pilates, who was born in Germany in 1883. Even though his father had been a gymnast, Joseph was a sickly child who suffered from rickets, rheumatic fever and asthma. Using his own research as well as being able to call on the experience of his parents – his father had been a competitive gymnast and his mother was a naturopath – Joseph built up his strength and fitness and improved his breathing with a series of exercises he devised based on martial arts, yoga, bodybuilding and boxing. In fact, for a while, he even made a living as a boxer and a circus performer.
During the First World War, Joseph worked in hospitals where he developed a system of springs and pulleys that could be attached to hospital beds to offer a form of resistance, helping injured patients do physiotherapy exercises even when they were unable to stand. This helped them increase their core strength sooner, enabling them to recover more quickly. He later developed the adaptations into what we now know as the Pilates Reformer bed.
Over the past century, Pilates exercises have developed to adapt to our changing lifestyles. Now that many of us spend so much of our lives hunched over computers and phones, it’s more important than ever to work on ways of perfecting and maintaining good posture.
Reformer Pilates strength training specifically works on building strong core muscles which are the basis of good posture. It’s important to recognise that focusing solely on strength training at the gym will not solve the problem by itself, because it doesn’t work on posture. In fact, there’s a risk that overworking some muscles will exacerbate back problems. Reformer Pilates concentrates on the body as a whole, developing strength evenly throughout the body and ensuring all the muscles are being used properly. This not only helps core stability and improves posture, it has numerous health benefits too.
Reformer Pilates also helps you become more aware of your posture (we bet you’re sitting up straighter as you read this!). Your Pilates instructor will keep an eye on your posture as you exercise, making sure you’re using the right muscles by correcting your stance if necessary. The more you become aware of correct posture, the more likely you are to self-correct.
A stronger core is not the only benefit that Pilates brings. The exercises also improve your flexibility by stretching your muscles. This greater flexibility will also help you to maintain your posture and stability.
The beauty of the reformer beds is that they are so adaptable. The inclusion of adjustable springs means that you can adapt the bed according to your personal needs for every exercise. This enables beginners to exercise side-by-side with people who are a lot further along in their journey, as they can gradually increase the resistance in order to get the most benefit from the exercises as they progress.
If you would like to improve your posture and reduce the risk of back pain, why not try one of our reformer Pilates classes for just £10, which also entitles you to bring a friend for free! If you’d prefer to book a private lesson before you join a group session, try a 1 on 1 introductory class, where one of our instructors will help you familiarise yourself with reformer Pilates at your own pace.
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