IBJI's Pilates Instructor, Yvonne Taylor, MS, NASM, STOTT, discusses how Pilates can help our health as we navigate the "new normal."

COVID-19 has turned the world upside down, closing the economy, increasing unemployment and more. Add the fear of catching the virus to the list and staying healthy during the pandemic can be a challenge. The answer—work from home, shelter in place, wear a mask and social distance—while this provides us with the tools we need to remain reasonably healthy, our activities of daily living can wreak havoc on our mental and physical bodies.

Sitting at dining room or kitchen tables working on laptops 8-10 hours a day has been known to overwork the mind and the body. Mental effects, such as anxiety, overwhelm us and in some cases depression settles in. Physically, these habits also lead to muscular imbalances that result in ailments from neck, shoulder and the all too common low back pain.

Pilates training can help to curb these challenges and with regular training reduce the negative results that new working/living conditions create.

Mentally, Pilates training helps the participant focus on small detailed instructions that culminate into various exercises that provide proper alignment of the body and facilitates strengthening the core while working the muscles of the extremities.

Breathwork (Breathing) is an integral part of Pilates practice that helps participants reduce mental and physical stress in their bodies. Breathing exercises and techniques facilitate proper execution of Pilates warm-up and strengthening exercises.

Combine breathwork, with listening skills needed to perform the exercises and you have a formula that calms the mind, helps the participant increase and sharpen listening skills while improving overall mental acuity.

Physically, Pilates strengthens the core by working muscles from the inside out. Stabilizing (or holding muscles) are contracted while moving muscles are worked against them. I liken this technique to having an internal resistance ball. As the muscles work in opposition of the other, the force that is generated creates strength. Pilates also uses exercises that stabilize the core while full range of motion exercise is done through the joints (i.e. one leg circles).

Other exercises focus on balance and flexibility which are important to proper movement techniques and maintenance of muscular balance which helps to reduce injury. Overall, Pilates is a gentle exercise technique that is essential and instrumental in helping us navigate our "new normal" creating great strength, posture, flexibility and effective functional movement. Pilates helps prevent basic challenges that can turn into compromised health conditions leading to more serious injuries.

Get strong, improve posture and proper alignment while eliminating chances for injury. Contact Yvonne Taylor (ytbennett@ibji.com) at Illinois Bone & Joint Institute to set up your appointment today!

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