Corrective exercise, not just exercise…
I have the pleasure of owning an original copy of the Readers’ Digest from 1934. In this old publication, Joseph Pilates shared a lot of wisdom in an article called Cutting a Fine Figure, wisdom that I feel is still overlooked by the present society.
Joseph Pilates said: “Sports are wonderful for the constitution generally but they are off little value for correcting what’s wrong with you and there’s something wrong with almost everyone. “Corrective exercise” is the only way to build a beautiful, strong, youthful body.”
In my 12 years of teaching, I have never seen a perfect body. We ALL have asymmetries in our bodies. We ALL need corrective exercise. A lot of people do sports regularly yet they get injured, suffer from pain or or still have protruding stomachs, weak backs and cranky knees. The asymmetries slowly takes a toll on the body especially if we do exercise that is repetitious. Without corrective exercise, we keep getting stronger where we are strong and weaker we were are weak. The body is very clever. Without us even being aware, it will take the easiest route to execute a movement. Strong muscles take over the work of the dormant ones, increasing the imbalances instead of developing the body uniformly. In order for us to wake up those sleeping muscles and restore balance, we need to exercise mindfully. This is why some people call Pilates mind body exercise. Its not that we meditating when moving but just concentrating bloody hard! That is why there is not music in Pilates! Nor should there be group classes of 10 people with the teacher telling them all the same thing. Each and evert body is different and needs to work on different issues. This is what makes Pilates so interesting for an intelligent teacher but also very confusing for the less experienced one.
In the article, Joe goes on describing the roll up, the second exercise in the mat repertoire. It starts by lengthening the whole spine on the mat, then rolling up smoothly so that every part of the spine is moving. As you roll forward into sitting, you increase the spine stretch by pulling your stomach in an up further before you roll the spine back down to the mat. Joe believed that this restores the spine’s mobility and and corrects any excessive curves it may have.
All the exercises that Joe developed have a specific purpose and when done correctly and frequently enough, they supple the spine and strengthen the centre. The key however is to execute the movement correctly using the right muscles, and this is where having a good teacher is invaluable. She/he can identify what muscles are overworking and which ones are weak, and guide you through a workout that will create symmetry and balance in your body. You need to get your dose of corrective exercise so that you can lead a healthy, active and balanced life!