Did you know that Joseph Pilates originally referred to Pilates as “Contrology?” The core ideas behind Contrology were combining mental wellness with small resistance strength training to improve health outcomes in injured patients.
When first experimenting with Contrology, Joseph Pilates would rig the springs of hospital beds to help World War 1 soldiers perform strength resistance training to recover from injuries incurred on the battlefield. When the Spanish Flu hit in 1918, none of the patients under Joseph Pilate's control died.
This early iteration of ‘Contrology” would later become Pilates reformer.
Joseph Pilates believed that having an apparatus to provide strong resistance and give users more control over movements was instrumental to achieving the best physical and mental results. Unlike traditional mat Pilates, which relies on body weight, a reformer machine provides participants greater control over their movements and the amount of resistance added to each workout.
Today, Pilates reformer, in particular, has exploded in popularity, with dozens of celebrities and influencers leading the charge by purchasing their own home Pilates reformer machines.
However, unlike other fads, such as waist training and celery juice cleanses, there are dozens of Pilates reformer benefits backed up by science.
Let’s discuss some of the Pilates reformer benefits for health and how Pilates reformers can transform your physical and mental state.
1. Increased Core Strength
Pilates focuses primarily on your core with abdominal exercises designed to strengthen and tone core muscles. On its surface, Pilates is a great way to build a six-pack, but focusing on core muscle development confers many benefits beyond a flattened belly.
What we refer to as abdominal muscles extends beyond our bellies and incorporates our hips, buttocks, and pelvic area. As a result, Pilates has the added benefit of relieving the following ailments:
- Pelvic floor dysfunction
- Hip pain
- Joint pain
The last one is key because strengthening your core doesn’t only help those specific muscle groups but extends across your body. By strengthening your core, you take less pressure off of your spine and hip bones, which relieves joint pain and inflammation across your entire body.
2. Full Body Workout
Pilates helps unload joint pain and achieve better movements across your entire body by improving core strength. When added up with the benefits of reduced stress and improved posture, which we’ll discuss, Pilates relieves total inflammation across the body and promotes full-body wellness.
However, that’s not all, as Pilates reformer delivers a full-body workout. For example, reformer footwork and leg circles help strengthen leg muscles, while simple reformer bicep curls, hug the moon, and hug a tree offer exercises to tone your arms. Upgrading to a Pilates Cadillac Reformer could provide you with dozens of exercise options designed for every muscle in your body.
By working all of your muscle groups, Pilates reformer helps muscles heal, achieve better flexibility and better circulation that reduces total body inflammation and pain.
3. Improves Posture
By strengthening your core, Pilates takes stress off of your spine, allowing it to resume its natural shape. Additionally, there are dozens of reformer exercises, such as the Short Box flat back and round back designed specifically to strengthen back muscles.
In fact, studies have provided evidence that Pilates can help improve kyphosis, otherwise known as a hunchback, in older women with osteoporosis.
Improved posture provides numerous benefits, such as better organ health and better oxygen and blood circulation across your body. This ultimately helps reduce pain and speeds up recovery in injured areas.
4. Reduced Back Pain
By strengthening the muscles of your lower back and pelvic floor, Pilates can help provide better support for your spine and lower back. Combined with improved posture and decreased inflammation, most people report decreased back pain after starting with Pilates.
Reformer Pilates, in particular, has several exercises designed to strengthen the back, which we’ve discussed above, and can target core muscles in both the lower and upper back to treat people with lumbar disc herniation.
5. Improved Balance
Pilates reformer also promotes full-body coordination and improved balance in older participants. For example, one study found that Pilates performed with Pilates equipment resulted in improved postural balance. Other studies have suggested that Pilates may even reduce falls in older participants.
Through a combination of increased postural balancing, abdominal strength, and mind-body awareness, Pilates reformer can be instrumental in helping older patients who struggle with falls or poor coordination achieve a better quality of life.
6. Reduced Stress
Pilates has often been referred to as a cortisol conscious exercise in the same category as Yoga, and for a good reason. By focusing on deep breathing and slow/precise movements, Pilates has the uncanny effect of reducing cortisol during exercises, while many other exercises increase cortisol.
In addition, Pilates helps reduce blood pressure, which may also lower feelings of stress.
Pilates is often recommended in tandem with many high-intensity strength exercises to calm the mind and allow the body to achieve faster recovery. Overall, Pilates on a mat or with a reformer effectively reduces cortisol levels and promotes mental wellness.
7. Better Sleep
The research is clear; elevated stress disrupts sleep patterns. It accomplishes this by disrupting your circadian rhythm, which rules over your sleep patterns.
Fortunately, by reducing stress, you won't disrupt your circadian rhythm, and you can go to sleep faster and wake up feeling more refreshed.
One of the byproducts of this is improved weight loss. Not only do we burn the most calories during REM sleep, but a lack of sleep has been associated with higher ghrelin levels, which make us hungrier.
To recap, by reducing stress through Pilates reformer, you can enjoy better sleep and even lose more weight.
8. Improved Mental Clarity
Not only has elevated cortisol been linked to serious diseases like Dementia, but it’s also been found to decrease overall memory recall, spatial memory, social cognition, and much more.
By reducing stress through Pilates reformer and calming the mind, participants can achieve better cognitive function, alertness, and total energy.
9. Better Immunity
General exercise helps improve blood circulation and facilitates the transport of immune cells that combat infections.
In addition, reduced stress and increased wellness have also been associated with better immune function.
When combined with reduced inflammation, Pilates reformer does more to positively impact your immune system than most standard Western exercises.
Joseph Pilates developed the Pilates reformer as a tool for physical therapy and improved mental wellness.
In fact, Pilates reformer was developed as a therapeutic tool before being considered a mainstream exercise.
There are dozens of direct and indirect Pilates reformer benefits by reducing stress and inflammation and improving core muscle strength.
Fortunately, getting started with Pilates is easy as all you need is a mat or reformer machine. Most people who start with Pilates experience better mental clarity and physical benefits after the first few months.
Get started with Pilates reformer today and take the first step toward recovery or total mind-body wellness.