The benefits of Pilates are numerous!

I’m often asked the question – “Why is Pilates so good for you?” and so I’ve put this article and video together for you to explain just 6 benefits of Pilates. There are many more – but these are the ones I hear about most often from clients and my weekly workout family. They are also the benefits I believe in the most.

Pilates is so good for you in so many different ways and if you’re intrigued to find out more – click play on the video below or read about the benefits of Pilates in the synopsis below.

If you’re looking to start a new Pilates practice or get back into it  – then you might be interested in my Members Workout Club – which is Pilates focused. With two new workouts each week, 200+ videos inside the membership area and a “Pilates for beginners” programme – it’s the perfect place to learn and improve.

Ready to see those benefits? – click play below or read on …

Benefit  #1 – Weight loss

Pilates is brilliant for aiding your weight loss journey – but we have to look at a good diet as well.

Why will Pilates aid weight loss?

Because we’re working with our own bodyweight … we are working with our muscles. Muscle burns fat and the greater the muscular frame we have, the more metabolically active we are and so the more calories we burn.

If you have a higher muscle to fat ratio, compared to a higher fat to muscle ratio, then you will burn more calories per hour – just by being sat down!

So one of the key benefits of Pilates is to aid your weight loss, as long as you couple your practice with a beautifully balanced diet. It’s a brilliant win-win situation.

A picture showing the one of the many benefits of pilates

Benefit #2 – Body tone

Pilates is fantastic for toning and sculpting the entire body.

The important thing is is to choose the right programme – a programme which works on all parts of the body and as I like to say, ‘keeps the body guessing.’ Working solely on one part of the body each day OR doing the same exercises each week won’t give you the body tone you’re looking for.

My Tone with Tuffrey Pilates programme is just perfect for toning and sculpting.

I use small equipment too, such as weights, a band, a roller or even sliders – there are so many different pieces of equipment to help challenge the body.

Pilates is brilliant for body tone.

Benefit #3 – Posture

Another benefit of Pilates is that it really helps your posture.

First of all, it makes you aware of your posture.  Because we are ‘forward moving’ creatures … we are at our desks more … we are reading more and often we’re anxious more, Pilates is so important for opening up our front line and strengthening our back line, which in turn enhances our posture.

The second thing it does is to prevent injury through creating the right posture. This is one of the best benefits of Pilates there could be! The more that we’re stuck in bad posture, the more likely it is we can get injured, through the smallest of movements.

So, it’s really important to think of really opening ourselves up. The more we open up – the more we can work from our centre – then the more we will work our back muscles and release through the chest – helping to improve our posture on a daily basis.

A photo showing a pilates class to improve posture through stretching

Benefit #4 – Balance

As we get older, our balance becomes compromised. It’s a natural part of the ageing process.

Another brilliant benefit of regular Pilates practice is to help us to improve our balance.

We can achieve this by working all the muscles that help with balance. As an example – we often work with the feet. I know it sounds strange to hear this – but it’s true – and it’s why I like to work with both the ankles and feet regularly. Working the glutes and centre as part of the body’s kinetic chain can also help with our balance too …

So just a simple exercise, such as standing on one leg and thinking about the pelvis being level, whilst engaging into the glutes, can be a really good exercise to do regularly.  If we have weak glutes, we take the tension into our lower back.

To reiterate, balance is extremely important as we get older. Pilates can really help to ensure that it doesn’t deteriorate as quickly as it would do, as part of the ageing process.

Improving balance is another benefit of pilates. This image shows Jo Tuffrey instructing a class.

Benefit #5 – Core stability

You will always hear that Pilates is fantastic for bad backs. It’s often the reason that people turn to Pilates in the first place – through a recommendation from their physio. Pilates works all the core muscles to stabilise and strengthen our centres from the inside out.

Why is Pilates so good for bad backs?

Because a healthy back relies on core stability and strength and Pilates is all about working from your centre, with other parts of the body released and relaxed. Regular Pilates practice creates a beautifully strong, yet flexible centre.

The key however is balance (if you excuse the pun).

You should aim to achieve the right equilibrium, between strength, stamina and suppleness.

It’s important to not be totally core strong, with no flexibility. Your body needs a balance of all of the three elements I list above.

Any Pilates programme you choose needs to help you to achieve that balance. Any instructor should be mindful of that when devising a program. I certainly am!

When you have a strong centre and core stability – imagine it to be like the scaffolding around a building – it appears that it is propping the building up. It also makes the spine beautifully aligned so the body can move in the way that it was designed to.

This is why Pilates is of huge benefit when it comes to alleviating the pain of a bad back.

Benefit #6 – Mindset

Physical exercise plays such an important part of improving our mindset.

With more energetic classes, endorphins, (the happy hormone that makes us feel good) flood the body. For more relaxing classes, where we want to chill out and stretch our bodies, then we can take ourselves off into a different place, which is also amazing for our mental health. Relaxation is such an important component of a balanced life.

Breathing is a really important part of any Pilates workout and by focusing on your breath – it helps to keep your body released and gives you that complete relaxation and mind space.

It’s always good to to forget everything else for a moment once in a while and just be at one just with yourself. Pilates can help you to do this.

I have many stretch and relaxation classes in my Workout Club – and you can try a free pilates relaxation class right here. Why not drop me a line and let me know what you think!

In summary – 6 benefits of pilates

Hopefully you can now see there are so many benefits to a regular Pilates practise. You’ve got nothing to lose by trying a free Pilates workout. Click the link – and get started today – maybe you’re about to start a new habit today? I do hope so.

Today I’m going to be talking about the Dowager’s hump and showing your some Dowager’s hump exercises to help alleviate the issue and improve your posture at the same time.

The video below would be the best way to see the exercises – but if you prefer to read – I’ve added some description and images underneath.

I really hope this helps.

What is the Dowager’s Hump?

The Dowager’s hump is the fatty deposit that lies on the base of the neck line, C7 and the top of your thoracic spine, T1.

You can see it pointed out below.

We’re ‘forward-moving’ creatures, and so we tend to get a little bit more round shouldered because we’re moving forward … we’re texting, we’re on computers, we’re reading, we’re driving. When you get very tight through your front line and through your chest, you can become a little bit round shouldered.

As we’re moving forward, the head moves forward and so the head is misplaced and it puts lots of stress on the neck and the shoulder line.

If we’re not careful, we end up like this (not attractive, I know 😮):

What sort of exercises do we need to rectify the Dowager’s hump?

We need to strengthen the back line.

We need to realign the neck line and the head.

And we need to open up the front line.

Be aware that there’s so much tension in this area, if we’re just an inch forward through the head line, it can put approximately an extra 10 pounds more force on the neck line. So, we really need to make sure that we are realigned in our posture.

First of all, I’m going to strengthen the backline, namely the rhomboid muscles which are located on your upper back and draw the shoulder blades together …

Dowagers hump exercise #1 – wide postion

We’re going to do a wide position, first of all.

If you have got a doorframe, you can do this with the forearms on the doorframe and you gently just lean into the doorframe:

Tip: Lean the whole body in, so you feel a stretch through the front of the chest – pec, minor and pec major.

Next, extend the arms up into a Y position, draw the navel to the spine, bend the knees slightly to release the lower back and ground into the floor with the feet.

Now – send the arms back -almost kissing the shoulder blades together. Hold it in place for 5 seconds – it’s deceptively strong. The video will explain more.

Dowagers hump exercise #2 – T-position

Next – Let’s go into a T.

Turn the palms to face the screen and bend through the knees, engaging the pelvic floor

Once again, kiss those shoulder blades together. Realign that neck lines. Take the arms back.

Where can you feel this again? Imagine the shoulder blades gently embracing, so the arms are pulled back slightly. Muscles work antagonistically together. As one muscle stretches, the other one is engaging. Hold it for 5-10 seconds and then relax. It’s deceptively strong!

Dowagers hump exercise #3 – W-position

Next – we’re going to do the “W”!

Turn the forearms to face the screen and gently engage the shoulder blades together. I always imagine angel wings – the arms are the wings and the shoulder blades is where the wings insert.

We want that part to be strong, so that when we’re moving the arms, we’re still strong in the body.

Hold for 30 seconds and then relax and repeat.

Next we’re going to work into a dumbwaiter.

Dowagers hump exercise #4 – dumb waiter

The palms should be up and the elbows underneath the shoulders.

Here we’re getting an external rotation at the top of the humeral head, so we’re stretching out the chest muscle that comes across the chest and inserts underneath the bicep.

Stretch the chest and externally rotate. Then hold for 10 seonds. You will feel that underneath your bicep, as you stretch it out where the insertion is.

Don’t hold any tension in the neck line as you release.

Here, we’re getting into the rhomboids and into the back. We’re creating tone into the back.

Do that twice more – externally rotate from the top of that humeral head. Really feel that stretch! Imagine your energy coming out through the crown of the skull.

Go through that same movement once more.

Do know that one arm is going to feel a little bit different. I can open out one arm more than the other. It doesn’t matter. – we’re all different!

If you work with a computer and mouse – you might be a little bit more internally rotated if your workstation isn’t perfectly in front of you.

Dowagers hump exercise #5 – neck retraction

Now we’re going to look at the position of the neck line.

Put your middle finger and your first finger on the nobbily bit, the top or the bottom of the neck. Over time, if the head is still forward, you do get that fatty deposit on the top. In the image below – I’m really exaggerating this.

When you look up – if you’re not careful, your posture doesn’t change. It looks so bad! And then it gets worse – the belly protrudes!

We need to rectify this.

Press into that C7.

Next, imagine somebody is in front of you and imagine they have got bad breath.

As they come towards you, press into C7 and neck retract.

Then, imagine they go away – and bring the neck back into line.

Repeat this multiple times.

It might help if someone records this for you? So you too can look like me above!  It’s the most unattractive exercise ever. So I apologize. But it works!

Keep finding that alignment and release.

How often should you do these Dowager’s hump exercises?

I would recommend a minimum of 3 times per week.

In an ideal world – you’d do this every day if time allows.

Just take 10 mins out from your day in front of a mirror and you’ll soon see a difference.