Joseph Pilates believed that the modern lifestyle, poor posture and inefficient breathing strategies were the roots of poor health when he was developing and solidifying his approach back in the 1950s. If anything, our lifestyle has become even more unhealthy since his time with even more convenience food items, sedentarism, and full-time jobs dedicated to desk work.
Pilates exercises focus on the use of the core to support the spine and provide better support and alignment for the entire musculoskeletal system. The emphasis is on bringing the full attention to the movement so that each exercise can be performed with the best possible precision and control. Breath is used in coordination with core stabilization and movement. This same philosophy of movement aligns well with Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization (DNS) according to Prof. Pavel Kolar PT, PhD and the Prague School of Rehabilitation, which emphasizes the relationship between the postural stabilizing function of the diaphragm, breathing, and developmental neurokinesiology.
Pilates’s original system focused on a drawing in of the abdominal muscles to activate the transverse abdominis. Research has shown this to be a less effective way of stabilizing the spine that can actually create a structural weak point at the focus of the drawing in. DNS focuses on eccentric use of all of the abdominal musculature circumferentially creating an outward pressure on the walls of the abdomen together with the downward pressure exerted by the diaphragm. The result is what is called intra-abdominal pressure (IAP). Proper IAP generation results in a stabilizing and decompressive force on the spine.
When I teach Pilates, I combine traditional Pilates principles with these effective stabilization strategies of DNS. This use of the best strategies we currently know from research evidence in combination with the exercises and theories of Joseph Pilates is known as evidence-based Pilates.