Why do I need to do Pilates footwork?
Our legs are often neglected in most of the workout we do. When we finally give them some attention, the workout is often targeted at muscle building and toning, not for balancing and alignment. The ironic thing about this is that we need our feet in our entire workout to give us balance and support while we go about them.
Planting the feet comprises most of our physical workout routines and in order to gain maximum benefit from these exercises, your feet need to be in proper contact with the ground. The feet are the foundation of the body because they help us maintain our posture and general body structure.
The only time we pay attention to anything south of our calves is when we experience foot pain, and it is often after trying out other remedies such as opting for better footwear. Most sports-specific footwear companies target such cases even though the problem usually lies in the balancing and alignment of our feet. Common problems brought about by imbalanced or unaligned feet could be as follows:
· The shape of the feet directly influences our gait and posture. Gait is the way our body positions itself in movement such as running and walking. Badly shaped or unaligned feet can cause real problems that can become terminal if not addressed.
· Wearing flip-flops can especially be detrimental to your posture since they force your toes to curl, effectively reducing arch support. It also reduces the strength of surrounding muscles such as the calf and shin. Pilates footwork helps to correct this by reducing the wear and tear caused by such activities. In addition, this helps to balance the leg muscles and greatly improves the posture.
The surprising thing is that most of the aches and pains on the lower limbs and feet are caused by imbalanced muscles and poor posture resulting from unaligned feet. Balancing the leg muscles and keeping the feet aligned can help avoid hip and knee surgeries. Benefits of this exercise can last a whole lifetime.
What is Pilates footwork?
Pilates and posture go hand in hand. Pilates is a reformer that is used to strengthen the core muscles of a body for a better posture and performance. Focusing on Pilates for the feet has a lot of benefits but also helps a lot in performing better in the other Reformer workouts in order to get the maximum benefit out of them. The feet are really important to the body when you think about it. They are the basis of support for the legs, spine, arms and head.
Pilates footwork is considered to be very advantageous since it is a closed-kinetic-chain or closed-chain exercise and this is beneficial since it offers the option of variable resistance. In the closed-chain exercises, the body is the only one that is mobile while the feet remain planted on the bar or jump board. The body moves away from the feet as the knees and hips lengthen to facilitate this movement. The feet should in no way move.
This variable resistance technique is ideal for all kinds of people such as those with injuries or for people who have been deconditioned. It is also suitable for people with more muscle mass who focus their workouts on strength and power. Despite its repetitive nature, all the exercises are extremely beneficial.
Check This YouTube Video on Classical Pilates Footwork Series on the Reformer
Attaining good alignment using Pilates footwork
One of the benefits of the Pilates footwork is that it helps you to achieve perfect body alignment. This can be attained by conditioning your body through certain poses and positions. When trying to achieve alignment:
· The pelvis area should not be engaged throughout all your movements. It should remain neutral.
· The center of the hip joint (also known as the center of the inguinal crease) should be positioned directly over the center of the knee, which in turn should be positioned directly over the ankle. This should be replicated on both legs since the whole point is to get the body aligned.
· The knees should point directly ahead, same as with the feet. They should also both be in line with each other. The femurs should also not be rotated in any direction in that they should be orientated to be facing forward.
· The ankles should not be rolled out towards the little toe (supinated) or rolled towards the big toe (pronated). They should be positioned directly over the feet.
· The central weight-points should be on the center of the heel for heel exercises and between the big toe and the second toe for ball-of-the-foot exercises.
Benefits of Pilates footwork
Perhaps the greatest advantage of balancing your leg muscles and aligning your feet is that the benefits just keep on coming. This closed-chain movement helps in the following ways:
· It helps to build strength in the hips, legs, ankles and feet for a more stable posture.
· Leads to increase in flexibility of the lower limbs.
· Helps to attain a balanced growth and development of muscles around the joints.
· Pilates footwork is essential in leg, ankle and foot alignment.
· Improves the bio mechanics of the body to optimize functions such as walking, running and dancing. It is especially beneficial for athletes who partake in sports.
· It helps in preventing injuries from sports and training by balancing the muscles to help them manage the stress on the joints of the limbs.
· The reform also helps to recover from muscle injuries, thanks to its closed-chain nature which allows the person to gradually build muscle strength by slowly increasing the resistance.
Summary of Pilates footwork
Most of the structural problems we face originate from issues pertaining to poor posture. Poor posture can lead to terminal problems, which affect the spine and the bones of the limbs. Aligning the feet also help in attaining better coordination in the moving functions such as running and walking. It reduces wear and tear of muscles thanks to uneven distribution of muscles which in turn causes unequal distribution of stress during movement.
Pilates footwork helps your body regain its natural balance and assists in the realignment of the feet.