With any Pilates workout, you can be sure that no matter what muscle you’re actually targeting, you’ll also be getting a good amount of work in your core. Each and every one of the modality’s moves requires you to engage those central muscles, which could explain why they feel inexplicably sore in the two days following a class. But for today’s Pilates-based Trainer of the Month Club Workout—led by East River Pilates’ Brian Spencer—you’ll be hitting those muscles even harder than usual with a series of twisting exercises that help to strengthen the deepest parts of your core. The result? Improved posture and a lot less tension in your neck and lower back.
Your core is made up of nearly a dozen muscles, and your deep core comprises four of them: The transverse abdominis, diaphragm, multifidus, and pelvic floor. “These muscles, located close to the spine, are essential for spinal stability and mobility, help us improve our posture, and are game-changers with injury prevention and movement efficiency,” says Spencer. “Finding the connection between our deep core and more global systems—like our abdominals/obliques, postural muscles, and glutes—is truly the secret sauce of Pilates.”
The way to do this, he says, is through twisting movements. “I love twisting when we are strengthening our core,” he says. “It really helps us decrease tension in our mid-back, mobilize the space between the shoulder blades, and challenges our stability in a movement we do all the time in our daily life. Twisting is one of the best ways to literally unwind your body, and helps to wring out all of the extra tension that’s stored up in your muscles. The fact that it builds strength is just the cherry on top.
Challenging your core muscles—the way this twisting workout does—is one of the best ways to get your upper body to relax. Working your core in an elongated position helps to release some of the pressure that builds up in your back after sitting in a desk chair for a long period of time. If you’ve ever described your body as “feeling crunchy,” or experienced those knots in your shoulders that just never seem to go away, then you might find that Pilates allows you to find a bit more space. Plus, it improves your mobility, flexibility, and posture, which happens to be the trifecta for nipping back and neck pain in the bud.
So press play on the video above—and maybe fire up Twist and Shout on your speakers—and get to strengthening.
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