There is no detour around the ageing process. The fact is, as we age, we lose bone mass (Osteopenia) and gain conditions like Arthritis which result in pain and decreased flexibility in the joints. This is the natural ageing process, but there are some things you can do to make it easier and even delay it a bit.
Osteopenia is caused when bone breaks down faster than it is made. Bones become thinner and more porous which leads to increased risk of fracture, and eventually can progress to Osteoporosis. Arthritis is an inflammation and stiffness - and sometimes structural changes in the joints - which is not only painful, but also limits mobility and may lead to a stooped posture. This may seem to go hand in hand with old age but there is a way you can help prevent this characteristic rounding of the spine that is often caused by osteoporosis and the destruction of the vertebrae in the upper and middle spine.
So what can you do? The answer is simple: Pilates!
Pilates is extremely beneficial for both the conditions mentioned above. Pilates is a resistance exercise. Whether you are using your own body weight, a resistance band, a toning circle or the Reformer the exercises used in the Pilates method can help rebuild and strengthen bone and increase mobility in the joints.
Pilates is also low impact so you are getting the full benefits of resistance training without adding undue stress to the joints and bones that you are trying to protect. The ultimate focus of Pilates is to strengthen the core. When you have a strong core, you naturally put less pressure on the joints and bones when you move, because you are moving from your centre. Balance is improved and weight and force are distributed more evenly as you perform daily activities.
The lengthening of the muscles as a result of performing Pilates exercises can also alleviate muscle soreness in the joints for Arthritis sufferers and can have a permanent positive effect on your posture. Because there is a lot of stretching, and a focus on breathing, in Pilates blood flow is increased so better circulation is achieved. This can also help to alleviate the discomfort associated with joint issues. Having more mobility in the joints can then greatly improve the quality of life for someone with arthritis because it leads to more freedom of movement.
There is a caveat though. As with any exercise program, you should consult with your doctor before beginning Pilates sessions, especially if you currently have Arthritis or if you have progressed to Osteoporosis. Forward flexion exercises or any exercises where the spine is loaded are to be avoided with Osteoporosis as they can result in spinal fracture. But do not be deterred! There are an infinite number of other exercises in the Pilates repertoire that you can do, and I can offer advice and guidance as needed. Don’t hesitate to get in touch to find out more.