In the last 10 years, Pilates has seen a massive boom in popularity. However, it’s a common misconception that Pilates is only for women. Pilates is great for everyone, including men. Pilates is often prescribed for reducing back pain and healing from injuries. The added core strength and overall muscle balance can help you feel better and reduce pain that can hinder your day to day activities. (1)
5 reasons why men should try Pilates:
- Flexibility: Men by nature are not overly flexible from the waist down. They tend to struggle with tight hamstrings, hip flexors and abductors. This can come from having weak gluteal muscles. By loosening and strengthening these areas, you can perform other activities to the best of your ability without fear of injury. Tight muscles = more prone to injury.
- Muscle-building: Pilates forces you to slow down during movements, which in turn puts more demand on your muscles. “Slow and steady wins the Pilates race”. If you speed through an exercise or movement, you are more likely to do it incorrectly. Pilates also focuses on building intrinsic muscles, which are muscles that don’t typically get much attention. By working these smaller muscles, you are preventing injury and improving your fitness.
- Pain relief & balance: Balance comes from your feet and core. If your core is not strong and your body lacks flexibility, then you can throw balance out the window too. We tend to favour one side of the body naturally. It could be by simply crossing your legs and leaning on one hip or your posture. Pilates elongates & strengthens muscles from head to toe, making your muscles balanced from one side of the body to the other. This improved balance throughout the body improves your movements and most importantly, can reduce pain.
- Posture: Pilates gets you to think about your posture both inside and outside of the Studio. Increased awareness of your posture will help your flexibility while maintaining a healthy, ‘younger’ spine. “A man is as young as his spinal column. If your spine is stiff at 30, you are old. If it is flexible at 60, you are young”, said Joseph Pilates, the founder of the Pilates Method.
- Abs: Last but not least, sporting teams turn to Pilates because of its core and abdominal benefits. Every movement should derive from your core, whether you’re lifting heavy boxes, reaching for a glass on the top shelf, or throwing a ball. A strong core can help propel any movement better without strain on the body.
Why should men consider Pilates?
Perhaps because of the way Pilates is marketed, or the popular perception of Pilates, people often associate this exercise method with women.
The biggest difference in benefits of Pilates for men, compared with women, lies in the tendency for men to train in a way that overemphasizes certain muscle groups in their workouts and neglects other muscle groups.
According to Matt McCulloch, Pilates educator and co-founder of Kinected and the Functional Anatomy for Movement and Injuries (FAMI) workshop, Pilates can help men find balance in their workouts.
“Men tend to overtrain certain joints, regions, and muscles such as the rectus abdominis ‘six-pack muscle,’ the biceps and triceps, and the quads. Due to this overtraining and resultant muscular imbalance, men tend to incur certain frequent injuries.” (2)