Alignment, Core and Breathing for Maximum Returns
Why Pilates is key to optimising your gym gains
Pilates teaches you how to mobilise, strengthen and align your body, which helps you feel more bulletproof in body and mind. When lifting or squatting for instance, you can apply pilates techniques to help your form and that all important mind muscle connection.
- Help your form and technique
- Teach you the importance of breathing when lifting
- Lessen the chances of injury
- Increase mind-body connection for more gains
- Protect your back and spine
- Teach you how to engage your core properly
- Increase your overall strength and mobility
- Help you feel bulletproof in mind and body
Squat or not to squat
Squatting was such a functional movement when we didn’t have a loo seat to sit on to do our business. When we squat your hips, knees and ankles flex in order to allow the descent. Now when you apply that to a gym setting, often what is observed is people having insufficient mobility through those joints in order to squat in optimal alignment. People then grip in their hips or hyperextend their backs to allow them to squat or use tools such as a wedge under their feet. This creates further imbalances and heightens the propensity to injury especially when you add load.
Here are some tips for core engagement, alignment and breathing when lifting.
Engage your pelvic floor
Your core is made up of the pelvic floor muscles (the muscles that keep your organs in place and helps with continence and sexual health), the deep abdominals called your Transverse Abdominis (TA is like a corset around your vital organs and lower back), small muscles in your back called Multifidus (helps stabilise the spine) and the diaphragm (intrinsic to breathing). These muscles all collaborate in a pressurised system to help give you stability and protection to your trunk – like a corset hugging your body. Weakness in your core can result in back pain, incontinence, injury particularly to the lower back and hip region and cause further imbalances and complications further up and lower down. You can start to strengthen your core through deliberate engagement of your pelvic floor and deep abdominals.
ALIGNMENT OF PELVIS AND SPINE
Back injury can occur when your alignment isn’t well balanced and your back is in an overtly curved position or hyper extended whilst lifting. The joints of your hips, knees and ankles need to have full range of movement and to be balanced in order for your pelvis to find its optimum alignment too. This is where a Pilates class can really help you find better alignment and for you to be mindful of it in other activities that you do such as golf, cycling and running.
Breathing when lifting
The amazing link between your core to your jaw!
When you clench your jaw and hold your breath, you add more tension down to your core and pelvic floor because there is a direct facial link from your pelvic floor to your jaw. Relax your jaw and this will help you to breathe better; engage your core better; align your pelvis and spine better; and ultimately lift better with less chance of injury. The out breath is important on the exertion i.e. the lift. Try to really expel your breath through your mouth when lifting and adding your core engagement whilst doing this. You can try panting on heavy lifts so quicker out breaths to lessen the bearing down affect on your pelvic floor. Breathing in through your nose also increases the oxygen intake, prevents hyperventilating and calms the body in stressful situations.