You may have noticed that Pilates feels a little different to other forms of exercise. There is something about it that feels purposeful, makes the time pass quickly and gives you a greater understanding of your body. That ‘something’ is the mind-body connection that Pilates so effectively strengthens by focusing on your neuromuscular control.
Practising Pilates is not just about toning your glutes, abs and arms. In fact, this is an added bonus to the movement control and efficiency that you are really working on. Neuromuscular control is your body’s ability to control what your joints do without you thinking about it. This is an important factor in:
- Injury prevention - both acute injuries such as an ankle sprain, and overuse injuries such as tennis elbow.
- Postural control - which can play a part in headaches, lower back pain and pelvic pain.
- Athletic performance - from weightlifters to runners and weekend warriors to professionals.
By practising different patterns of movement and using specific cues to challenge the way your body may naturally want to move, you improve your control and start to move more efficiently. This can create a sense of length and lightness and the appearance of moving effortlessly once you get the hang of it. Like any skill, the more you practise, the more automatic and subconscious these movement patterns become.
This is where consistency comes in. To get better at anything we need to practise, practise, practise. Repetition is the best way to improve your body awareness and neuromuscular control. The good news is that you don’t have to commit to an hour or even half an hour to get results. Even a 5-10 minute class will help to reinforce those movement patterns and make a change.
Not only does a quick class help you to get ‘better’ at Pilates, it also helps to build the habit of rolling out your mat and getting it done. A regular routine of mini classes is far more effective than a sporadic high intensity class or two. Even if you only have the time or energy for a 5 minute class, you are better off sticking to your routine and doing this, than skipping the session all together.
In just 5-10 minutes you will improve your skill, reset your posture, engage your muscles, mobilise your joints, connect to your body, release some endorphins, cement your routine and feel so much better about yourself. So the next time that little voice inside your head is telling you that you don’t have time and you’ll just do the class tomorrow, open your app, pick a mini and get it done, you will not regret it.