As Pilates has gained recognition in the medical and mainstream realms as a beneficial form of exercise to address every concern from back pain to love-handles, boomers have jumped on the bandwagon. Specifically, many have heard that Pilates can be a great bone-strengthening addition to a fitness regimen. But beware - traditional Pilates, especially when done in a mat class (on the floor) involves an excess of motion for the spine that can actually INDUCE spinal fractures. In fact, 75 percent of Pilates mat exercises are contraindicated - advised AGAINST - for those with osteoporosis and osteopenia. Why is that? A 1984 Mayo Clinic study determined that flexing the spine (forward bending) can result in vertebral fractures, the type that lead to loss of height and eventually even to a "dowager's hump." Those who have taken a Pilates class know that most of the exercises involve lifting your head off the ground while lying on your back and rolling up and down.
So why would people recommend Pilates? One emphasis within Pilates is the alignment of the body - elongating the spine and aligning it with the pelvis, hips, legs, feet, shoulders and head. What better way to combat slouching than to focus on posture and spinal decompression? Additionally, breathing and concentration are pivotal to every exercise. If you are more "grounded" and centered in your mind, your body will respond accordingly and you may even be less likely to trip. Furthermore, balance and control play a large role in the Pilates repertoire, regardless of whether you are on the mat or using the machines. Pilates is a whole-body experience and promotes symmetry of the musculature along with proper body mechanics. Along those lines, all exercises emphasize "the core" - the deep stabilizing muscles of the lower back and pelvis, including the deepest layer of abdominals. When those are strong and can support the body, there is less effort to maintain an upright (or non-upright) position and also less risk of falling.
At Pilates Body Home we have many ways of making exercises safe and fun for you to get all of the benefits of Pilates. Please be very careful about just hopping into a mat class as you can do more damage than good. If you would like to feel taller, balanced and strong please call for a consultation.