Each day we utilize our body’s ability to balance (maintain a controlled body position), yet we rarely train it specifically during exercise. The skill of balance is essential in all kinds of functional movement – from walking to riding a bicycle! Using pilates for balance and strength can lower the risk of falls, especially in older adults, by focusing on the fundamental benefits of pilates: strength, stability, flexibility, posture, and breathing.
As we age, we can become less stable on our feet. This means that older adults in particular need to consider ways to improve balance to avoid falls that may lead to serious injury. It is imperative that we keep moving and keep our sedentary ways to a minimum, otherwise over time our ability to balance will decrease significantly. Practising pilates for balance and strength regularly is a great way to ensure we remain stable, especially for the over 60s, as it is low impact yet still highly effective at strengthening the core muscles, which aid in balance.
Balance is also especially important in many sports, from gymnastics to surfing to skiing. It has been shown that training that challenges balance can increase performance and decrease chances of injury – making it a useful tool for athletes and an excellent addition to sport-specific exercise programmes, as regular practise improves core muscular strength and control.
The following movements can be used to help develop balance and strength and can be done at home or with Chris in the studio:
Bridges work the gluteus maximus, which supports your body and helps it stand up straight, as well as using the muscles which propel the body forwards. When we balance on one leg, the glutes are engaged. To work them, lie on your back and bend your knees. Carefully lift your glutes up, hold briefly and then lower back to the ground.
Squats are one of the most functional movements available, and incorporating them into a regular routine can build strength in the quads (thigh muscles). Being able to get up and down from a squat by focusing on your balance is especially important as it mimics getting up and down from a chair. Focus on your breathing, engage your core and squeeze your glutes as you rise from the squat for better balance.
Kneeling rear leg raises can help build stronger glutes while also engaging the core. Starting on all fours, engage the core muscles and then carefully extend one leg back out. Hold for a second, then raise the leg up until carefully holding the pose – then lower it back down to the start position.
Are you interested in practising pilates for balance and strength training? Get in touch with Chris today to find out more about incorporating it into your daily routine and to book an assessment class!
0131 652 1904