Core, also known as the centre or ‘powerhouse’ of the body, is where Joseph Pilates, the founder of Pilates exercises, placed his main focus when he developed his method of exercises in the 1940s.
Pilates exercises, when done correctly, will recruit the deep core muscles such as transversus abdominus, diaphragm, pelvic floor muscles and multifidus; align, stabilise and protect the spine from injury. In addition, Joseph designed his exercises holistically by including simultaneous involvement of both leg and arm movements for ease in transference to functional activities.
Apart from the ‘core’, pilates also places emphasis on precision, flow, control, concentration and proper breathing during the exercise with ultimate aim to achieve good posture and movement without thinking.
People of any age or level can benefit from pilates. Therefore, it is common to see pilates being incorporated in rehabilitation regime to treat patients with low back pain due to conditions such as degenerative changes in the spine, slipped discs and spinal instability.
Pilates exercises can be performed either with equipment such as the reformer (picture on the left) or on the mat. The benefit of using a reformer is that it is able to alter the level of difficulty of a movement based on the resistance of the springs.
In Tan Tock Seng Hospital, physiotherapists with clinical pilates training will incorporate suitable pilates exercises for the patient to tone up their abdominal muscles, manage their back pain, strengthen and improve their back. Some studies have shown that when pilates exercises are practiced over a period of time, it is able to reduce frequency, duration and intensity of low back pain.
By Mrs Vernetta Wong
Senior Physiotherapists and a certified clinical pilates instructor in the Physiotheraphy Department of Tan Tock Seng Hospital