Increase flexibility through reformer Pilates

Increase flexibility through reformer Pilates

There’s a whole host of benefits you’ll enjoy with regular reformer Pilates, one of which is improved flexibility. While the core focus for many when they’re engaging with Pilates is increased strength or toning their muscles, improved flexibility is also an important element in keeping your body in good condition. It can help prevent injury, increase blood flow throughout the body and allow you to utilise your muscles to their full potential. 

While the body is often broken down into individual parts and systems when you’re working out, it’s important to remember that your body acts as a whole. If you’re aiming to increase strength and muscle tone with Pilates, flexibility is a vital part of achieving that goal. 

Anatomy of the Reformer: A Tool for Stretching

One of the most vital aspects of the benefits you can gain with Pilates is because of the reformer machine. It was designed by the creator of the Pilates workout, Joseph Pilates, and is comprised of several moving parts to engage your body fully. This bed-like structure features a sliding bed, which moves with you when you’re completing certain exercises. There are also resistance bands and a platform that you’ll use for both standing and lying-down exercises. 

The design of the Pilates reformer is made to work with your body, exactly where you’re at right now. Whether you’re inflexible and need to gradually work up to increase your range of motion or need to support certain joints while you’re recovering from an injury, it’s fully customisable. This is one of its many strengths, as it can also be adjusted to suit your body no matter how inflexible you might be. 

Progressive Stretching Techniques

The best way to improve your flexibility over time is both consistency and working just within your limits. Stretching with reformer Pilates operates differently from simply doing stretches at home. Rather than going into them cold with a stretch band, breath work and exercise on your reformer help to activate your muscles and tendons first. 

This operates in a similar way to hot yoga, however, instead of heat facilitating a deeper stretch, your blood flow and heart rate are elevated through movement instead. By utilising your full body, along with your body weight, you’re only going to end up stretching as far as you’re physically able. Bands and weights can cause overexertion, resulting in soreness after your workout. 

When you start out with reformer Pilates stretches, you’ll typically use a lower level of resistance on your bands and gradually increase them over time. These incremental adjustments in resistance will help strengthen your body while also encouraging deeper stretching throughout your joints and tendons in a safer way. This technique helps reduce the chances of injury along with giving you more sustainable results throughout your body, rather than just in one targeted area. 

The Importance of Alignment and Posture

Joseph Pilates was a vocal supporter of posture, with the reformer machine’s design created so that the only way you could successfully complete a movement was with good form. “Concentrate on the correct movement each time you exercise, lest you do them improperly and thus lose all vital benefits.” When you’re utilising Pilates for an increased range of motion, you’ll need to focus on maintaining fluid and stable movements, without them, you won’t be able to use your Pilates reformer machine correctly. 

Posture is associated with the mind-body connection and is also an important factor in improving your flexibility. Pilates utilises a more holistic approach to exercise, where you need to be equally as mentally engaged as you are physically engaged. When you’re actively focusing on how you’re standing and moving, along with breathing deeply into the stretches and movements, that concentration becomes more innate. Eventually, it’ll extend into your everyday life, meaning that even when you aren’t on your reformer, you’ll still be sitting, standing and moving in a way that’s healthier for your body. 

Benefits of Enhanced Flexibility for Daily Life

After you’ve been practising Pilates for a while, you’ll improve your dynamic flexibility, which is your capacity to use your muscles and joints at their full capacity. There are a multitude of benefits of improved flexibility that span both the mental and physical aspects of daily life. 

One of which is having an increased range of movement and better circulation. When you’re stretching and using a reformer, your heart rate will increase, which also improves the health of your cardiovascular system. Whether that improved range of movement simply means you’re able to fully touch your toes without bending your knees or are able to bend down comfortably to lift things from the ground, you’ll notice everyday activities are just that little bit easier. 

With better motility comes less chance of injuring yourself doing those daily activities. When you can pick heavier objects up with proper form by engaging your core, bending your knees and protecting your back, you’ll be less likely to end up straining anything. This also links in with an improvement in performance if you play sport, with better flexibility giving you ba boost in agility, increased balance and better stability. 

The mental aspects that often improve with increased flexibility include better posture. While better posture is better for your health, leading to less back and neck pain, it also often has a positive impact on how you carry yourself, giving you an extra boost of confidence. Another reformer Pilates benefit for the mind is stress relief. By taking some time to yourself to cultivate the connection between your mind and body, focusing on breathwork, utilising your body to it’s fullest potential and doing a more low-impact exercise gives your body the space to relax. 

Combining Strength and Stretch for Balanced Fitness

Reformer Pilates offers a combination of fluid, repetitive movements combined with deep breathing and stretching, it delivers a comprehensive full-body workout. By utilising your muscles and joints together, you’ll gradually build up longer, leaner muscles with a greater range of motion. 

Whether you’re healing from an injury, want to build up strength or increase your motility, Pilates is the perfect exercise for all body types and abilities. Joseph Pilates said, “Change happens through movement, and movement heals.” This sums up the incredible benefits you can gain by incorporating Pilates into your exercise routine. 

If you’re ready to stretch into something new with Pilates but still have questions, you can always visit our showroom to explore the reformer options we have or contact our team for help at any time.