We aren’t all gifted with cat-like dexterity and power. Many animals have a highly developed sense of proprioception which enables them to make rapid changes to their movements based on threats or arousal. Proprioception may be a lesser considered sense, but is the system that allows you to understand your body movement, body position and where you are at in space. Improved proprioception is one of the great and obvious benefits of a mind-body discipline such as the Pilates method.
Slow, controlled and purposeful movements as part of a movement training system (Pilates) improves your sense of body awareness as the information provided to the brain can be processed and then looped back to the joints…this feedback loop is a co-production between the various nerves and the brain.
Sports that have an aesthetic or form requirement are a great example of this. Let’s take football for example, to win you need to score points. It doesn’t matter you move or look while doing so, you just need to get the ball through those posts. Whereas in aesthetically oriented or ‘artistic’ sport, the athlete is required to achieve maximum points, where a portion of those points is for form. Their training is all about joint control and line of the body. This is a real world example of training the feedback loop for body awareness and efficiency.
The Pilates method is athletic conditioning that focusses on precision and form which not only improves your proprioception but has a huge impact on standing balance. When your instructor involves your foot health in a training session you have a direct tool to increase your balance. Combining balance work with body awareness training leads to fantastic results which can slow down the wobbles we associate with ageing.
Pilates may not be a one-stop-shop but it has a hell of an impact on your health at all points of the lifespan.
Next in the series – balance and the impact Pilates on proprioception and your wellness.