Before we answer, does Pilates help Flexibility, we want to tell you a little bit more about us, and our natural lack of flexibility.
There are two types of people in this world, the naturally flexible and bendy kind and the super stiff, can’t touch your toes kinda people.
We most certainly fall into the latter category. We really needed some help in the gaining flexibility department. And let us tell you, there is no better place to make you feel even worse about your lack of flexibility than in a Yoga class.
It’s easy to lose motivation when you look around and every second Yogi has their tummy on their legs in a forward fold. Meanwhile, we’re both feeling rather stuck in an upright slightly curved position. Stuck in our lower backs, stuck in our mid backs, upper backs oh and don’t forget the hamstrings. Haha, this is why you should not look up and compare but it’s also another reason why we love online Yoga and Pilates. You have limited people to compare to!
Also, just a reminder, it’s totally normal to be the non flexi yogi, that’s why you go to Yoga. To experience one of the many benefits, that is, to increase your flexibility!
But did you know Pilates might be an even better method to increase flexibility? Says me, Emma, the naturally super stiff Pilates instructor inside the MerryBody App.
I know this to be true because if there is one practice that I’ve been super consistent in over the last 7 years, it’s Pilates. And over these years I’ve noticed, slowly but surely a huge increase in my flexibility!
I still might not be able to get my tummy down on my legs in a forward fold, but I sure feel a whole lot more comfortable in that pose. I feel fewer feelings of ‘stuckness’ and more of those juicy stretch feels.
What is flexibility?
Flexibility is the ability of a joint to move by using an unrestricted range of motion without any pain, discomfort, or inner restriction. Of course, the level of flexibility will be different from person to person, but minimum ranges are necessary for maintaining health, ease in everyday life, high quality of life and a healthy mind and spirit.
Why is Flexibility Important?
Many people tend to think that flexibility is only essential for gymnasts or athletes who compete and perform those fascinating-looking stunts with their bodies. You might think that strength and flexibility are useful for sports purposes only and something to be monitored carefully by sports medicine professionals. However, many people also tend to overlook how much they rely on their own flexibility in their daily lives and how apparent its absence is.
Think about this. Bending down to tie your shoes, reaching up to close a cupboard, sitting down in a chair, and standing up again. All of these very basic daily actions rely on your flexibility.
Flexibility is essential in performing activities in daily life, maintaining an improved posture, balance control, improving the range of motion, and preventing injury in daily activities, especially in older adults.
It has been observed by several studies that older adults lose up to 50% of flexibility with age. This is something we want to avoid by improving our flexibility in time! And remember, the best time to start your flexibility practice, is now!
Can Pilates Improve Flexibility?
Pilates, invented by Joseph Pilates in the early 20th century, has gained popularity thanks to the benefits it brings in the strength and flexibility department. You can find more information on the creation of Pilates over here.
It’s the combination of stretch and strength of Pilates exercises that helps to increase the range of motion within a joint. One of our favourite Pilates-inspired moves that helps to increase hamstring strength and flexibility is Standing Splits, check out the photo above. You will feel the stretch in both legs while also building serious strength in the booty and legs! If you’re up for a Challenge, try this 10 minute Pilates class now!
Pilates exercises will stretch out and strengthen the muscles and therefore increase flexibility. Pilates is a whole body workout therefore strength and flexibility will increase in the back, core muscles, front body, side-body, shoulders, hamstrings, and hips.
Pilates works your core muscles and pelvic floor muscles in particular, and having a strong core and improving your core strength is especially useful. The core helps hold your posture in proper alignment.
However, it’s important to note that too much flexibility and not enough strength can lead to poor alignment, pain and even injury. So that’s why Pilates is an amazing balance of both.
Benefits Of Improving Your Flexibility with Pilates
There really are so many benefits and flow on effects from using this amazing practice to increase your flexibility. These benefits will be felt in your fitness performance, but more importantly, they will be very evident in your daily life and daily activities. Some of the main benefits of improved flexibility include:
Pilates Improves the Strength of Joints
Good muscle and joint flexibility will mean that your joints will be able to handle the stress of different kinds of movement during your everyday life, as well as the physical activity involved in different sports and exercises.
Pilates Reduces the Risk of Injury
Muscle tears and sprains don’t just happen to athletes! Backyard soccer, walking up the stairs, bending over to pick up something, even sneezing! All these actions (and more) can lead to a sprain or tear and are often caused by tension in the muscles.
An interesting fact is, most pulls and tears happen in the smaller muscles of the body. These smaller muscles are often overlooked in other physical activities, however, Pilates trains these muscles. By improving the flexibility and strength of the muscles there will be less tension which in turn lessens the risk of injury in the long run.
Alright, are you inspired to roll out the mat and move your body? We’ve got 5 days of 10 minute Yoga and Pilates classes waiting for you.
Combining Yoga and Pilates is the ultimate way to dedicate time and care for your mind, body and soul.
We’ll send the classes straight to your inbox, simply sign up OVER HERE with your name and email address! This program is completely free! Yay!
Emma + Carla