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Pilate footwork: simple yet powerful, it is typically the first exercise series taught on the reformer.
Pilate is a reformer that is used to strengthen the core muscles of a body for better posture and performance.
Pilates footwork reveals postural patterns and muscle imbalances in the hips, legs, and feet and is an effective exercise for correcting them.
Need for Pilates footwork
We usually neglect our legs in most of the workout we do. And when we eventually do, the workout is often focused at muscle building and toning, not for balancing and alignment.
It is ironic because we need our feet in our entire workout to give us balance and support while we go about them.
Common problems brought about by imbalanced or unaligned feet could be the result of the following:
- The shape of the feet directly affects our manner of walking or running (gait) and posture. Badly shaped or unaligned feet can bring real problems that can become terminal if not addressed.
- Wearing flip flops forces one’s toes to curl, and can be detrimental. It also reduces the strength of surrounding muscles such as the calf and shin.
Benefits of Pilates footwork
The Pilate footwork gives the basic, functional movement of the closed-kinetic-chain hip and knee flexion and extension that helps in the following:
- correct leg, foot, and ankle alignment;
- improves strength in the hips, legs, ankles, and feet;
- increase flexibility in the lower limbs;
- create balanced muscle development around the hips, knees, and ankles;
- retrain foot, ankle, knee and hip biomechanics for functional activities such as walking, running, dancing and sports;
- prevent injury by balancing stress on the joints of the lower limbs; and
- Recovery from injuries by training in a closed-chain environment where resistance on the affected limb(s) can be carefully controlled.
Closed kinetic chain exercises or closed chain exercises (CKC) are physical exercise performed where the hand or foot for arm and leg movement respectively is fixed in space and cannot move.
The extremity stays in constant contact with an immovable surface, usually the ground or the base of a machine.
CKC exercises simultaneously involve more than one muscle group and joints, rather than concentrating solely on one, making it good for utilitarian and athletic activities
This variable resistance technique is ideal for many kinds of people such as those with injuries or those who have been deconditioned. It is also suitable for people who focus their workouts on strength and power.
Despite its repetitive nature, all the exercises are extremely beneficial.
Good alignment and Pilates footwork
One of the benefits of Pilates’ footwork is that it helps one to achieve perfect body alignment. This can be attained by conditioning one’s body through certain poses and positions.
When trying to attain good alignment, the following rules should be observed:
- The pelvis area should not be engaged throughout the exercise movements. It should remain neutral.
- The center of the hip joint (also known as the center of the inguinal crease) should be directly positioned over the center of the knee, which should, in turn, be positioned directly over the ankle. This act should be replicated on both legs since the whole point is to get the body aligned.
- The knees should blankly point directly ahead, the same as with the feet. They should also be in line with each other. The femurs should not be rotated in any direction, such that they should be orientated to be facing forward.
- The ankles should be positioned directly over the feet. They should not be rolled out towards the little toe (supinated) or rolled towards the big toe (pronated).
- 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.
Most of the structural problems we face mostly originate from issues pertaining to poor or bad posture. Poor posture can lead to terminal problems, which does affect the spine and the bones of the limbs.
Aligning the feet also helps in achieving better coordination in the moving functions such as running and walking.
It induces wear and tear of muscles thanks to uneven distribution of muscles which in turn causes unequal distribution of stress during movement.
Pilates footwork helps the body to regain its natural balance and assists in the realignment of the feet.