How Pilates Can Help You Improve Your Balance

How Pilates Can Help You Improve Your Balance

Falls and fractures in older people can often be prevented by improving their core strength, balance and flexibility. Quite often falls are caused through muscle weakness, poor gait and loss of balance. Poor muscle tone can lead to clumsy behaviour which in turn can lead to a lack of confidence in our ability to simply get around.

Sometimes falls can also occur due to medical conditions and visual or hearing impairment so these things must also be addressed.

Pilates helps to improve your balance by developing core strength and stability around the spine, pelvis and lots of other joints. This has a direct impact on your balance and reaction times.

The stronger we are the quicker our reaction times so we tend to be able to use our core muscles to reduce the chances of having a fall.  If we stumble, we may be able to regain our footing better.

If we do still fall – which we all do from time to time, your bone health also plays a big part to how you will recover. People with low bone density with conditions such as Osteoporosis will more likely to experience a fracture after a fall due to brittle bones.

Over 3 million people in the UK have osteoporosis and lots more people with Osteopenia (the early stages of Osteoporosis). These people are more at risk of fragility fractures which are fractures that would not ordinarily result in a fracture if Osteoporosis wasn’t present. These fractures tend to be common in the hips, wrist and spine.

The risk of developing osteoporosis starts to increase in women that have gone through the menopause due to no longer producing oestrogen. People may also have an increased risk from side effects from medications, lack of calcium and vitamin D, diabetes etc.

Keeping physically active throughout life helps to offset developing Osteoporosis as certain types of exercise increase our bone strength. When we exercise, we increase the strength of our muscles as a result they pull more on our bones and in response our bones get stronger.

A combination of weight bearing exercises with impact and muscle strengthening are the most effective.

Examples of weight bearing exercises (loading of the skeleton) are; walking, dancing, climbing stairs, jogging, sports, star jumps, fitness classes etc.

Examples of muscle strengthening exercises are; training with weights, resistance bands or body weight exercises like Pilates or Yoga

Here’s How Our Pilates Classes Can Help

In our online and face to face Pilates classes we cover standing and floor-based Pilates exercises that will help to strengthen your core muscles. Pilate’s exercises are designed to load the skeleton in different ways so the body responds with the bone strengthening processes.

As we increase our muscle strength through Pilates, we develop a more upright posture, our gait (the way we walk) develops and our balance is much improved.     

Improvements in posture go hand in hand with improvements in balance and the risks of falling are significantly reduce. The knock-on effect is better mobility, improved self-confidence and a more independent outlook and willingness to get out and about. It really is a win-win situation.

In addition to the Pilates exercises mentioned above we also include at least one standing balance exercise in all of our classes.  It focuses on building strength and mobility around our ankles, knees and hips as well as our trunk. This type of exercise also challenges our sense of spatial awareness, our ability to be aware of our body’s position in relation to objects around us. This makes us much better at judging how we deal with the ‘obstacle course’ of life.

If your balance is considerable reduced you will be given the option of using a balance aid such as touching one hand on a wall or holding the back of a chair so as to increase your confidence and give you some stability to help as you improve your balance and develop your abilities.