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  1. Introduction to the Use and Benefits of the Pilates Reformer

    Introduction to the Use and Benefits of the Pilates Reformer

    The Pilates Reformers are lined up in Pilates studios all over the world and are probably the most famous piece of Pilates equipment. Reformer classes are usually one of the main choices at Pilates studios and portable reformers continue to grow as a home exercise equipment trend.

    What Is a Pilates Reformer?

    Pilates founder Joseph Pilates invented the reformer which is a bed-like frame with a flat platform on it called the carriage; this rolls back and forth on wheels within the frame. The carriage is attached to one end of the reformer by a set of springs which provide differing levels of resistance choices as the carriage is pushed or pulled along the frame. The shoulder blocks located on the carriage keep a practitioner from sliding off the end of the reformer as they push or pull the carriage. In addition to this, there is an adjustable bar called a footbar at the spring end of the reformer which can be used by the feet or hands as the practitioner moves the carriage. The reformer also has long straps with handles on them that are attached to the top end of the frame, these can be pulled with legs or arms to move the carriage as well.

    The parts of the reformer are adjustable for various body sizes and levels of skill. It is the resistance of the springs and body weight that make the carriage more or less difficult to move.

    How Is a Reformer Used?

    The reformer provides versatility as exercises can be done lying down, standing, sitting, pulling the straps, pushing the footbar, perched on the footbar, perched on the shoulder blocks, with additional equipment, upside down, sideways and numerous other variations. Due to this, the reformer can train many dynamics and parts of the body in many different ways with just one piece of equipment, it allows for first-time beginners to exercises that challenge the most advanced. 

    The exercises which are completed on the reformer promote length, strength, flexibility, and balance. The majority of Pilates reformer exercises are based on pushing or pulling the carriage or holding the carriage steady during an exercise as it is pulled on by the springs.

    What Are the Benefits of Pilates Reformer Exercises?

    Exercising with the reformer is possible for anyone, at any level of fitness which is why the full name of the reformer is the Universal Reformer. It offers all the famous benefits of Pilates including overall strength, flexibility, coordination, and balance which, in turn, lead to daily life improvements such as better posture, efficient and graceful movement, and for many, relief from pain associated with physical imbalances for example back pain.

    The Pilates powerhouse muscles which is the core muscles are of upmost importance for building strength; flat abs, strong backs, toned thighs and glutes are all results of this emphasis. Although Pilates

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  2. How to Set Up Your Home Pilates Workout Space

    How to Set Up Your Home Pilates Workout Space

     

    It's not necessary to have a lot of room to do home Pilates workouts, all that is really needed is a clear space on the floor big enough to put

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  3. Why You Need to Stretch

    Why You Need to Stretch

    The art of stretching, we all know that we should stretch before and after a workout but many people do it as a cursory thing and some may not do it at all. So why is stretching important and how should it be done properly?

    Why Is Stretching Important?

    Muscle Development

    If you want to build muscle then stretching will help you develop a full range of movement. It will help you build full and long muscles.

    Assists Posture

    Stretching assists posture by lengthening tight muscles that pull areas of the body away from their intended position. A good example of this is if you do a lot of work at a desk with a computer, you can end up with a hunched shoulder look.

    Prevents Injury

    Stretching helps to prepare muscles for the work they are about to do and will elongate the muscle. This will help prevent muscles pulling or tearing during exercise and prevents strain being put upon ligaments or capsular structures.

    Prevents Muscle Soreness

    Stretching warms muscles up and increases blood and nutrient supplies to muscles. This is also a way of preventing the muscles hurting after a workout.

    Increases Range Of Motion

    Stretching will develop flexibility in general thus aiding mobility and movement. Being flexible is proven to reduce the chances of chronic back pain. Flexibility will allow us to accomplish ordinary daily tasks from bending over to tie our shoe laces and also to perform more demanding tasks as flexibility ensures that joints can be taken through a full range of motion with little effort.

    What Types of Stretching Are There?

    There are many different stretching techniques including static stretching, dynamic stretching, PNF, myofascial and stretches often performed in yoga. Here we look at static and dynamic

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  4. Understanding Plyometrics & Plyometric Workouts

    Understanding Plyometrics & Plyometric Workouts

    Found in varying degrees of the majority of all athletic movements, speed and strength are essential components of fitness. The combination of speed and strength

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  5. Foam Rollers - Are They Worth Having?

    Foam Rollers - Are They Worth Having?

    Foam rollers are fantastic ways of releasing muscle tension and stretching tendons without an expensive trip for a sports massage. They are also great for working the core and improving flexibility and range of motion.

    Firstly, foam rollers not only stretch the muscles and tendons, but break down what is known as soft tissue adhesion.

    The sticking together of the soft tissue that connects muscles, blood vessels and nerves below the skin can occur, particularly after intense workouts or covering long distances on foot or on a bike. This adhesion can restrict flexibility and causes soreness and pain in what is known as the myofascia system in and around your muscles.

    Foam rollers allow you to essentially give yourself a sports massage and a myofascia release; a technique whereby sustained pressure on the soft tissue and traction to the fascia breaks down the adhesions, releasing the tension and improving flexibility.

    Foam rollers are inexpensive and, with guidance and practise, almost any muscle group can be targeted. £20 for a piece of equipment that could be almost as effective as an expensive sports massage

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  6. Muscle Balance and Imbalance

    Muscle Balance and Imbalance

    What is muscle balance? Muscle balance refers to the length and strength of opposing muscles. When the muscles of the body are balanced, we would expect to see good postural alignment, full range of movement through all planes of motion and full range of movement in the joints.

    When opposing muscles are the correct length and strength and the body can function powerfully and efficiently.

    Muscle Imbalance

    Problems occur when muscles become subject to ‘faulty loading’ and this can lead to muscle imbalances. Faulty loading may be due to a number of factors including poor posture, incorrect training, driving, sitting at an office desk or trauma and the muscles will respond to these faults accordingly. In parts of the body that are under faulty load, the muscles may shorten or tighten and this will result in the opposing muscles lengthening to compensate. The muscles that are lengthening will be weak and this will lead to imbalances.

     If we take the example of an office worker who sits at a desk for a large part of their day, we can identify muscle imbalances. They may well lean forward whilst sitting or bend their neck forward to look at a computer screen. Sitting like this for a long period of time over many days or years will result in muscle imbalances and postural problems. The abdominal muscles may become short or tight which in turn will cause the spine to flex forward. The back muscles will lengthen and this may result in kyphosis of the spine, also known as ‘hunch back’. This example shows how the short, tight muscles will begin to pull the body in a certain direction and without identification and correction, injury and future complications may result.

    What's The Effects of Muscle Imbalance?

    These imbalances may cause pain and can lead to many muscular and joint injuries. The short, tight muscles will

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  7. Stretching Before and After Exercise

    Stretching Before and After Exercise

    For decades it has been normal to stretch carefully before exercising. But there is now an increasing call from scientists and sports experts to stop this practise,

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