Tips for Starting a Pilates Routine for Balance Improvement

If you’re new to Pilates, it’s best to start with a small class or one-on-one instruction, says Milton. This way, an instructor can ensure you are performing each move with good posture and form.

Incorporating Mind And Motion Pilates practices will not only enhance the benefits of your workouts but also contribute to injury prevention. Here are some tips to get started with a balance-building Pilates routine.

Focus on Your Core Muscles

The goal of Pilates is to strengthen and stabilize the core. That, in turn, improves balance and coordination. Pilates exercises also help with posture, a major contributor to balance.

The core muscles include the abs, back and obliques. They’re the muscle groups responsible for keeping you upright and moving with control. The more strong your core muscles are, the less likely you are to fall or have other injuries.

For runners, incorporating Pilates can enhance performance and reduce the risk of injury. A study found that just a few sessions of Pilates per week increased balance, flexibility and core muscle strength, as well as improved body awareness.

Heather Milton, CSCS, a clinical exercise physiologist at NYU Langone Health in New York City, recommends starting small when it comes to adding Pilates to your workout routine.

That way, you’ll give yourself time to get accustomed to the workout before increasing its frequency or intensity. This will ensure that you can continue the routine long term and make it a sustainable part of your life.

Breathe Deeply

Pilates exercises are synchronized with breath to encourage a mind-body connection and promote core engagement, balance, and control. This mindful breathing pattern also calms the nervous system and increases oxygen flow to muscles, thereby improving concentration and increasing the effectiveness of your workout on your Merrithew V2 Max Reformer.

Inhaling laterally, or expanding outward on the sides of your ribcage, helps engage your obliques and upper back while keeping your abdomen relaxed.

You can test your lateral breathing by placing your fingers together on either side of the lower half of your ribcage and feeling them move apart from each other during an inhalation. Then, imagine your ribcage knitting together during exhalation.

Breathing properly during your workout is incredibly important, but it’s especially vital when you practice balancing movements. This is because your core muscles must be engaged to stabilize the body as you perform each movement, which could cause injury if you don’t breathe properly.

Stay Stable

Pilates focuses on the core muscles that are critical for balance, and its dynamic stretches and fluid movements help to improve mobility and joint stability. It also helps to correct and prevent imbalances throughout the body, which can lead to injuries or pain over time.

Whether you attend classes or take one-on-one lessons with a certified instructor, or practice at home with instructional videos, it is important to start slow and work your way up to higher difficulty levels as you build strength and confidence. Doing too much too soon can be stressful to the body and can cause injury.

This is especially true for beginners, who may need to focus on breathing techniques and abdominal muscle control before progressing.

It is also a good idea to supplement your Pilates routine with other types of exercise, including weight training and cardiovascular activities.

For example, if you spend most of your day sitting, the Swan exercise in Pilates can open the spine and counteract the hunched posture that results from too much time spent in this position.

Don’t Overdo It

A little soreness is normal after a Pilates class, but it’s important to not push yourself too hard. “Pilates focuses on small muscle groups and stabilizing muscles that often don’t get worked as much in other types of exercise,” says Estrade. She adds that a well-taught Pilates workout can make you feel the burn in muscles like your inner thighs, which are hard to target with other kinds of exercises.

Adding Pilates to your routine can help improve balance, but it shouldn’t be the only type of workout you do each week. “You need to be doing cardio and strength training in addition to Pilates,” explains Heather Milton, CSCS, an exercise physiologist at NYU Langone Health.

Try this core-strengthening move: Starting in the wall Pilates position, hold one leg straight out behind you while raising it up toward your buttocks. Repeat 10-15 times on each side. Also known as a standing oblique crunch, this moves helps strengthen the abdominal, back, and hip muscles, which can boost balance.

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