What do we need to improve control over our bodies?
Since we are talking about conscious processes, of course, learning and (self-) observation are essential. It’s no coincidence that body & mind type movements aren’t exactly famous for speed: the slow pace allows us to keep track of what’s going on during each movement. We need to be able to determine for ourselves which muscles is working, when and how dynamically.
We should be able to control which muscles is activated and the power of the movements accurately to observe what kind of changes do they trigger in our overall posture. These cannot be observed at a dynamic pace by one who does not have the basics. Obviously, the better someone perceives the above in oneself, the more they can control the faster paced movements.
Consequently, it is also unfortunate to work with maximum intensity in these types of exercises: with lower intensity, it’s also easier to observe the stages, and we can also eliminate the risk of muscle injuries. The more functional an exercise, the better. Due to the complexity, the chances of overloading a particular muscle or group of muscles are less,
and the load is more easily distributed. Moreover, through such practices, there is a greater opportunity for the development of coordination.
There is spring resistance on almost all Pilates equipment. Exercises with spring resistance encourages constant control due to their instability and continuous load. Springs also have a beneficial effect on our body's perception of space.
What can we notice about ourselves if we pay attention?
The asymmetry in the use of our muscles will be more easily identified. These imbalances can only be eliminated if we recognize them in our daily movements or workouts. If we can pay enough attention to these, we can have an effect on our body positions and basic posture during daily activities, which will most likely result in a more optimal load on our spine and joints in general.
We can also detect the point where a particular movement becomes painful. This can help a lot in optimizing our training, preventing overuse of joint, overworked muscles and consequently preventing injuries. With a low degree of body perception, we can only feel if “it doesn’t hurt” or “it already hurts” during exercises, while mapping the boundary between the two more accurately allows for more effective training or faster rehabilitation when working with a specific problem.
What happens if we stop moving?
The less we move, the more blurred the map of proprioception gets in our brain. The coordination of our movements is more inaccurate, our fine movements are becoming ‘rougher’. Not only do we lose our muscle strength, but we also lose control of our body, exposing ourself to increased exposure to injury or damage due to poor movement quality or increasing imbalances of the body over time.
It is important to emphasize that it is not just those who do not move (or do not move regularly) who may have poor body awareness. In any given sport, through regular exercise, our brain is able to store and evoke many patterns of movement, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that we do them with good body awareness and muscle control. Therefore, it is beneficial to introduce a body & mind form of movement as a cross-training, with which we can get a better picture of the functioning and load capacity of our body through observation. Focusing on complex muscle work will allow us to do our chosen sport healthier and more effectively. As Joseph Pilates always said, 'Pilates is not a sport it’s a base, the ground work for all sports.'
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