This March is Mobility Month at Bodywise Pilates
Joseph Pilates once said: “You are only as young as your spine is flexible." Much of Pilates philosophy and exercises are centred around this, and here’s why.
Your spine is made up of 24 moveable bones or vertebrae (there are in fact 33 bones* but those of the coccyx and sacrum are fused). These bones are separated from each other by a soft cushion, or disc, with a fibrous outer shell and a softer centre with a high fluid content. The spine itself is supported and held in place by a complex web of ligaments. Tendons run from the spine to muscles to allow you to move. Through the spinal column runs millions of nerves to all parts of our body, that send messages to and receive messages from our brain. The vertebral bones have facet joints, bony protuberances on each vertebra, and between these bones is cartilage to allow the joints to slide and glide and allow you to move. Your ribs interlock between each vertebra, lifting up and out, on the in breath, and down and in, on the out.
Having a mobile spine is fundamental to being able to breathe well and move easily without pain.
If any part of this complex mechanism seizes up or fails to move as it is designed to do it will affect your whole body, causing loss or inhibition of movement, pain and poor posture. Hence the emphasis that Pilates puts on creating mobility and good alignment through the spine.
Regular movements, that mobilise and stretch your trunk, will pump fluid and nutrients through the spine keeping the discs lubricated and the connective tissues supple. Key Pilates exercises such as the Shoulder Bridge or Hip roll, the roll down and roll up, Swan Dive and Swimming, Spine Twist and Mermaid are all about flexing, extending and mobilising your spine. Combined with the correct breathing pattern this will massage the connective tissue of the spine and stretch the muscles to allow movement. In Pilates, we work to create length in the torso and space between joints.
A natural progression, as your body ages, is for your spine to compact, the discs lose fluid and compress, your body naturally becomes shorter. This is compounded by our sitting lifestyle, slumped in a chair in front of a screen or in a car, all factors that contribute to poor posture and spine health. Regular Pilates will help counteract the effects of our lifestyle, putting emphasis on elongation, creating space between your joints, with fluid movements that smoothly stretch and contract your connective tissues.
Completing a few daily exercises, when you get up, during the day, or before you go to bed and that just take a few minutes can make a lifetime of difference to your quality of life and health of your spine!
“If your spine is inflexibly stiff at 30 you are old. If it is completely flexible at 60, you are young.” Joseph H Pilates
This is Mobility March, follow us on Instagram and Facebook as our Bodywise Instructors give you easy to follow exercises that you can do anywhere at almost any time. Or if you'd like to know more and book a Pilates session send us an email
Ref: Depusynthes.com (2014 2018):