Hayward Webb has his strong words which speaks, "Flexibility has become a modern day value which everyone wants. But it comes with a cost." We all want us to be flexible enough in our body and mind to withstand the odds without being out of shape. But it actually takes great effort, hard dedication and a strong approach towards the steps for improving flexibility. There are various exercises and stretches which can help us grow with the flexibility in our joints, in muscles etc. In this current article we will talk about the Pilates which are highly beneficial in improving flexibility in the human body.
What does Flexibility Mean?
Now if you are willing to clear your doubt on what exactly flexibility mean; then you must be made aware that flexibility, also termed as limberness is the absolute range of movement in joints and the muscles which help in the bending movement or motion of a body. It surely varies from one individual to other. There is a saying, "If you can't be flexible in life, you become irritable with life." It clearly states, flexibility is essential for a quality life. One can improve flexibility by various means. In the following array of our article we will be discussing about how Pilates can improve flexibility in the joints and all the length in the muscles that cross the joints inducing motion or a bending movement.
It must be kept in mind, that pilates stretches, exercises help in improving flexibility of an individual but there are many factors like joint structure, muscles, skin, tendons, fat or adipose tissue, activity level, body temperature, age and gender etc which are to be taken in to account while undergoing the Pilates for improving flexibility. Let us discuss on the Pilates for flexibility in the following paragraphs.
Someone has greatly said, "The art of Pilates is looking at the body and knowing the most direct way to address it." A method of exercising that stretches and lengthens all the major muscle groups in human body in an absolutely balanced manner is known as Pilates. Pilates helps in improving the muscular and postural strength greatly when done regularly along with the Yoga moves.
Some Facts about Pilates:
- Pilates was introduced into America by a physical trainer named Joseph Pilates which helped the injured athletes and dancers heal and safely return back to their job. Later on it was adapted to suit the normal civilians in the general community.
- Pilates can be either of the one; i.e. Aerobic form or the Anaerobic form of exercise.
- It lengthens and strengthens all the major muscle groups.
- Pilates requires a lot of focus and concentration in a person while doing as here one has to move his or her body through precise range of motions.
- There are also specialized breathing pattern which requires to be learnt while doing pilates. Each pilate exercise has a prescribed placement, rhythm and a prescribed breathing pattern
- Usually one session in Pilates lasts for about 45 to 90 minutes and it involves a series of exercise sequences which are performed in a repetitions of 5-10 times.
- There is no sweating or straining in Pilates.
- Usually this method of Pilates exercising is suited for everybody, including the senior citizens, the general population, pregnant women, people with low fitness level and the athletes.
Types of Pilates:
There are basically two forms of pilates. Let us discuss on the two basic forms of Pilates below.
- Mat Based Pilates: Here the primary aim is to condition the deeper and supporting muscles of our body so as to improve balance, coordination and improve the posture. Mat-based pilates includes the series of exercises which are performed on the floor with the use of one's own body weight and the gravity so as to provide resistance.
- Equipment-based Pilates: This is the type of Pilate exercises which includes the use of specific equipments that works against the spring-loaded resistance, including a movable carriage pushing and pulling along its tracks, called as "reformer". Some of the pilates also requires the use of weights like dumbbells.
Various Pilates Stretches and Exercises For Flexibility:
Wall Roll Down Pilates Exercise to Make Your Body Flexible:
This is a simple way of exercising that comes under Pilates which is done by using our abs for achieving the articulated curve of the spine. The wall roll down stretches the back and the hamstrings and works the abdominals and trains for a great posture. It is recommended only if you are comfortable enough in doing the wall roll down exercises
How to do Wall Roll Down Pilates Exercise:
- Stand straight against any wall.
- Leaving your body on the wall, move your feet six to ten inches away from the wall
- Pull your abdominals inside
- Make sure to keep the shoulders away from ears and keep the chest wide and ribs down as you raise your arms right up over the head
- Keep your shoulders straight up as you roll down your spine slowly and away from the wall slowly and gradually
- As you roll down your spine, there is a sense of lengthening in the spine.
- Work slowly moving the spine away from the wall
- Allow your neck and head to relax.
- Roll down as far as you can without allowing your hip to leave the wall
- You can feel a hamstring stretch here.
- Now, slowly roll up with your lower abs placing the each vertebrae of the spine back to the wall.
Spine Stretch Pilates Exercise To Get a Flexible Body:
Spine stretch is a kind of Pilates mat based exercise which is useful anywhere in a workout and is actually a great stretch for the hamstring and the back.
How to do Spine Stretch Pilates Exercise:
- Sit on the floor with your legs extended straight but spread them shoulder width apart.
- Sit erect such that your back and is straight and head kept firm..
- Inhale deeply and extend your arms out in front of you to shoulder height.
- Next, exhale as you lengthen your spine to curve forward. The curve here looks like a deep C-Curve.
- Now, allow a deep release in the hips as you keep your shoulders down and take your fingers towards your toes.
- Inhale and enjoy the fullness of your stretch.
- Then finally again exhale and roll up through the spine to sitting.
Saw Pilates Exercise To Improve Flexibility:
This is a wonderful way to do the pilates that involves an intricate back and hamstring stretch. Let us know how to perform the Saw pilate stretches below.
How to do Saw Pilates Exercise:
- Sit on the ground with your legs extended straight and spread the legs wide apart.
- You have to stretch your arms out to both the sides at the shoulder level.
- Inhale and slowly turn your torso such that you left hand is rotated towards your right leg while your right hand is pointing straight towards your back as shown in the image. Make sure your pinky finger of the left hand moves across your right foot small toe.
- Next exhale and slowly comeback to your original position and repeat the same with turning your torso such that your right hand is rotated towards your left leg.
- Make sure your pinky finger of the right hand moves across your left foot small toe.
Swan Pilate Exercise For Increasing Flexibility:
Swan is one of the best Pilates exercises which can be done as a counter stretch for the many forward flexion exercises in the Pilates mat-based exercising forms. It actually opens the front body, expands the chest and stretches the abdominals, hip flexors and the quadriceps. Apart from improving flexibility, Swan also helps in strengthening. It requires at least 5 minutes of time to perform this once. It can be repeated for 4-5 times at once.
How to do Swan Pilates Exercise:
- Lie down on your stomach with your face down on the mat.
- Keep your arms close to body, near to the chest.
- You can keep the legs, shoulder width apart while doing this exercise.
- Inhale and now with the help of your arms, slowly lift your head, neck, shoulders and upper back but make sure you do not lift your hip and stomach off the ground.
- Maintain this position for a couple of seconds and then exhale and slowly return back to the original relaxed position.
- You must repeat this Swan exercise for at least 4 to 5 times with the proper breathing pattern in it.
Hip Stretch Pilates For Improving Body Flexibility:
This is a wonderful stretching exercises meant for the outside of the hip. It is pretty easy and one can easily manage the intensity of the stretch while doing it.
How To Do Hip Stretch Pilates:
- Lie down on your back with the knees bent and feet flat on the floor. You can keep your spine remain neutral and need not have to flatten the back of yours.
- You have to bend your right knee until the thigh is perpendicular to the floor.
- Now bring your left knee up, rotating the left leg outward at the hip so that you can rest the left ankle on your right thigh just above the knee.
- Next you need to take your right hand to the outside of the right thigh and thread your left hand through the opening made by your crossed left leg over the right ones. Now grasp your hands behind the right thigh.
- In the next step you are to press your left thigh open with your left elbow and simultaneously you have to pull your right thigh towards your chest by using your both the hands.
- You can feel a fair stretch along the outside of your left hip this way.
- Breathe deeply into the stretch, hold the position for 30 seconds and repeat once again the same with the other leg.
- Make sure your neck and shoulders are being kept relaxed all throughout the exercise.
Who Must Seek A Medical Advice Before Doing Pilates?
Please keep a note, "Precautions are necessary to keep away from unnecessary tensions." It is true that pilates is a low impact exercise form and is suitable for every age group and everyone, even with the one with low fitness level; yet there are some conditions where one must seek medical advice before beginning any new program in Pilates. Check out the categories of people who must maintain precaution and take expert advices before or while doing the pilates.
- Anyone who have had a recent surgery
- Anyone above 40 years of age
- Pregnant women
- Anyone struggling from any medical condition like the heart disease
- Anyone who is overweight or the obese peoples
- If someone has remained out of exercise for a long time.
If you have been trying hard for flexibility, then here is what you can come up with the best of the fitness moves that not only helps you great in improving your flexibility but also allow you to do it more efficiently with less effort. Know and understand the proper steps for doing various types of Pilates exercises and stretches for flexibility, consult with your medical experts and fitness trainers and start with the good move right away.
Remember, "Flexibility is a requirement for survival". Go, get it for your very own existence.