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Pilates and Core Strength: Why You Need Both

Woman doing Pilates with large ball

When Pilates comes to mind, so does the term "core workout." This makes total sense since Pilates has become synonymous with cultivating a strong and stable core. However, the term "core" has also become synonymous with “abdominals,” and there’s much more to the story! Let’s delve into the various components of the core and how each plays in achieving overall body stability and balance and Pilates’ role in all of this.

Your Core is More than Just Abs

The core muscles collaborate to provide stability and support to the body. While abdominal exercises contribute significantly, overlooking the other key components can lead to imbalances and potential issues down the road.

Fit woman

Components of the Core:

1. Abdominals:

   - Often the focal point of core workouts, the abdominals consist of various muscles, including (but not limited to) the rectus abdominis and obliques. These muscles play a crucial role in flexing and rotating the torso. they also hold your organs in place!

2. Lower Back:

   - The lower back muscles, including the erector spinae, contribute to spine extension and help maintain proper posture. Forgetting about lower back strength can result in weakened back support.

3. Pelvis:

   - So much goes on with the pelvis. Especially for women. The pelvic muscles aid in pelvic tilting and rotation, which is crucial for maintaining pelvic alignment. Proper engagement of these muscles is fundamental for overall stability.

4. Hips:

   - Hip muscles, such as the hip flexors and external rotators, facilitate hip movement and play a role in leg alignment. Strengthening these muscles is essential for balance and controlled movement.

5. Glutes:

   - The gluteal muscles, comprising the gluteus maximus, medius, and minimus, contribute to hip extension, abduction, and rotation. Weak glutes can lead to instability and affect overall posture.

Stabilization and Imbalances

Achieving a well-rounded, stable core involves giving attention to each component. Strong abs alone won't guarantee stability if the lower back, pelvis, hips, and glutes are neglected. Imbalances in these areas can manifest as postural issues, discomfort, and reduced functional movement.

Classical Pilates: A Holistic Approach

Woman doing Pilates on a reformer
Pulling Straps on a Pilates reformer

This is where Pilates comes into play! Especially classical Pilates. Pilates stands out as a fitness method that inherently incorporates the entire core. Every exercise within the classical repertoire on all apparatus engages multiple muscle groups simultaneously. Even when seemingly isolating specific areas like the abdominals (during the abdominals series of 5)  or arms (during pulling straps or arm circles on the reformer), the nature of Pilates movements ensures that the entire body, especially the core, is involved. Whether you’re a fan of Pilates or not the fact is, Pilates will very effectively work your entire core. Every session.

Embracing Variety: Beyond Classical Pilates

While the classical method remains my true passion, I believe there is room for exploration beyond its boundaries. As an instructor and dancer, I can appreciate the value of incorporating diverse movements into my routine. Teaching and practicing outside the classical method adds a dynamic element to some Pilates sessions, infusing creativity and variety into the workout experience. Some wouldn’t agree with this, but that’s okay!

In essence, Pilates and core strength are inseparable. If you attend a Pilates class and don't feel a good workout in your core muscles, then it might not have been a proper Pilates session. Regardless of whether you practice Pilates or not, it's important to focus on strengthening these core muscles to improve your everyday life efficiency.

If you'd like to try mat Pilates, check out my YouTube channel and subscribe!


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