Myth or Fact? The Top 5 Myths about the Pilates Method

pilates reformer classes stoneham
Small Group Training WellBarre Pilates Stoneham, MA

As a Pilates Instructor and studio owner I am aware of the many myths surrounding Pilates when clients are new to Pilates Method. When clients are new to Pilates there tends to be a lot of misconception about what Pilates is and what it is not.

Here is list of the top 5 myths about Pilates Method:

1) Pilates is not challenging

Pilates utilizes all muscle groups which can be very intense and challenging for many people. It is normal to experience muscle soreness after class as you are using under-utilized muscles that are neglected as part of everyday life to include sitting, driving and inactivity which leads to de-conditioning.

2) Pilates is like Yoga

Although Pilates includes stretching, the primary focus of Pilates is on the spine and what’s known as the Powerhouse. The powerhouse area of your body goes from the bottom of your ribs all the way to your hip line. It includes the abdominals, glutes, low back muscles, pelvic floor and muscles surrounding the hip joint. Powerhouse muscles work together to support and stabilize the trunk, but they also create and support big-movements of the body. And they give those moves their dynamic strength. Joseph Pilates emphasized this area of the body in the program of training he designed.
The core muscles are included in the powerhouse and are the deep stabilizers. The pelvic floor, the psoas, the transverse abdominus and the multifidus are included.

3) Pilates is for dancers or celebrities

Although in recent years there is a proliferation of beautiful celebrities like Kate Hudson and Jennifer Aniston, known for their devotion to Pilates, the method is appropriate for all bodies and can be modified to suit most bodies. People who are post-surgical and with limitations in movement or body-awareness can help improve these conditions through mindful movement that protects the joints and back.

4) Pilates will eliminate excess body-fat

Pilates will not burn-off the ice-cream you ate last night. In-fact, no-exercise will do that despite claims that you can “burn-off” excess body-fat. Abs are truly made in the kitchen through a diet that is balanced and includes healthy fats and low in processed foods and refined sugar. Pilates can give you an amazing cardio workout by the use of the Jump board or when Pilates is done in a HIIT format.  Abs can be sculpted as well as glutes and other muscle groups, but if you have excess body fat you will need to change your diet.

5) Pilates Reformer is appropriate in large group settings

Unfortunately, Pilates Method cannot be successfully taught in groups larger than six participants. Pilates Method was originally intended to be done in private training and small groups only. Pilates Instructors should be appropriately certified in the Method and attentive to safety and body-limitations. This is difficult to replicate in a group larger than six.

 

Diastasis Recti…Can Pilates Help?

The answer is YES! But first- what is the condition known as Diastasis Recti?  Diastasis Recti is a separation in the abdominal wall causing your belly to protrude. Many women complain that following childbirth they continue to appear pregnant long after the actual pregnancy. Having more than one child makes this condition more likely, especially if they’re close in age. You’re also more likely to get it if you’re over 35 or from delivering multiples. Pregnancy places a fair amount of pressure on the belly, so much so that in fact, the muscles in front can’t keep their shape. “Diastasis” means separation. “Recti” refers to your ab muscles called the “Rectus Abdominis.”

 

The muscle opening often shrinks after giving birth, but in some studies of women with Diastasis Recti, the muscle wasn’t back to normal even a year later. Ultimately when this condition is neglected, it can cause further complications such as: chronic constipation, urine leakage, low back and hip pain, and the appearance of being overweight.

What Types of Exercise Help Diastasis Recti?

Many women with this post pregnancy condition jump into exercise programs that in fact worsen this condition. Some routine fitness moves including crunches, sit-ups, push-ups, press-ups, and front planks, make abdominal separation worse. Swimming, various yoga moves (like downward dog), and certain movements performed on the hands and knees can actually have a worsening impact on Diastasis Recti. Some trainers may suggest those exercises for women with abdominal separation, not knowing that it may worsen the problem. Many abdominal exercises, such as crunches or exercises involving trunk flexion, can actually make the separation worse. Instead, women should opt for isometric contraction of the Transversus Abdominis.

How Can Pilates Fitness Help?

Post-natal Pilates can help by rebuilding the Tranverse Abdominis. The Transverse Abdominis acts like an internal corset bringing the Rectus Abdominis in and back together. Pilates is a fantastic way to strengthen the Transverse Abdominis, however there are some exercises that are contraindicated for Diastasis, such as ones that involve flexion, rotation and back extension. Once the Diastasis has been healed, exercises involving flexion, rotation and back extension can be done, as long as the Transverse Abdominis can be held in and there is no doming of the Rectus Abdominis.

A great way to better understand correct alignment and healing strategies for Diastisis Recti is to work with an experienced Pilates Instructor in a private training session to assess, evaluate and create a unique program to improve the core muscles.  Using both Pilates Equipment and performing Pilates Mat exercises are highly effective in re-contouring, reshaping and aligning the body by strengthening the abdominal walls and pelvic floor. If you have questions about Diastasis Recti, or Post-natal Pilates, contact the studio for more information about our programs.