All that lying down.
The claims made for Pilates’ benefits are myriad – it is astonishing that it can, apparently, offer the wide array of outcomes that one can read about on the web. Before I give the wrong impression, let me be very clear (again) that I’m an enthusiastic advocate of Pilates, and have both personal and professional experience of the remarkable changes it can help to make in many people’s lives.
One website I visited contends both that Pilates can help prevent osteoporosis, and that it will not stress joints. (Perhaps I’m wilfully misinterpreting, but surely stress is what promotes bone growth…?) This seems to relate directly to what, I would contend, is a flaw in Pilates (as it is often offered to the public). How much time do people spend lying down, both in mat and equipment classes ?
Revisiting some of those frequently listed benefits: How do we improve posture? We make muscles work more effectively (dare I say stronger?). How do we improve ‘core strength’? The same answer. How do we relieve back pain? Isn’t it the same answer? And helping prevent incontinence? Surely the same again. Of course there is a component of lengthening and releasing overworked muscles, and we can’t overlook working on breathing patterns, and developing physical awareness. All of these things are adaptations, and one of the most potent ways of triggering adaptation is stress, as expressed in the concept of hormesis. Explained as follows on www.innovitaresearch.org, a website offering information related to ageing:
“In response to stress, an organism is expected to go through three distinct phases: alarm reaction, resistance phase, and exhaustion phase. According this schema, the adaptability can be developed during the resistance period. This notion is in line with the evolutionary view on the survival for the fittest theory, for which the only possible way to attain the survivability is through the organism’s metabolic and defensive adaptation to deleterious stress.”