Pilates classes provide an excellent workout— they can help strengthen and tone muscles, increase balance and improve posture. But an area that they significantly benefit that many don’t realize the important of is flexibility. There’s a reason so many athletes practice Pilates—improving flexibility will significantly enhance your performance in other physical activities, as well as daily life, and also help reduce your risk of injury.

The slow, deliberate stretching that is performed during Pilates classes and private sessions strengthens the basic muscle groups in a logical sequence, while also targeting the smaller muscles groups. These smaller muscles are typically ignored in weight lifting and other workouts, resulting in weakness that can sometimes lead to injury. Nearly all of the exercises you learn as part of your Pilates practice will bolster your flexibility, whether you prefer mat exercises or workouts on the Pilates reformer

Working out in a slow, controlled manner can be intense—not only building strength but helping to develop longer, leaner muscles that are more flexible. Pilates students strive to maintain balance, posture and control while transitioning gracefully from one position to the next.  Doing this in an efficient manner requires strength and pushing your limits of flexibility, which in turn, increases it over time.

Mat classes provide the opportunity to work on these principles, using the resistance created by gravity, while workouts on the Pilates reformer allow you to use the springs for resistance. Both help to lengthen your muscles while developing a recoil action. In an ideal world, students would have the opportunity to work out in both formats on a regular basis.

image: health.com

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