How Pilates Aids Digestion
By: Stephanie Ruopp .
Happy New Year!
With so much great food, drink, and celebration last month, we hope your holidays were truly wonderful.
Of course, with all of the food, drink, and revelry that comes with the season, it’s not unusual to feel a bit sluggish when the holidays pass.
Especially when it comes to digestive issues.
So while you’re busy detoxing by drinking more water and eating whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats, consider adding “do Pilates” to that list.
Because Pilates aids digestion too.
How Pilates Aids Digestion
Holidays aside, it’s not unusual for our digestive systems to slow down in the fall and winter months anyhow.
So technically, you went into the holidays with a deficit.
And one of the best things you can do to detoxify is increase movement in the body. Doing so allows the body to get rid of waste product and toxins.
This, in turn, calms the digestive system and reduces the inflammation that occurred from overload.
But Pilates is more than just movement.
While Pilates focuses on the core (abdominal muscles, lower back, inner and outer thighs, hips and buttocks), the method’s attention to the mind/body connection, concentration, control, flexibility, breathing, and fluid movements makes it a tremendously effective aid in digestion.
And it starts with the breath.
Most of us don’t breathe as deeply as we could.
But Pilates teaches the importance of breath. And by just actively focusing on your breath while mindfully moving in and out of Pilates positions, you will be giving your abdominal organs a massage and strengthening your diaphragm muscles.
It’s called lateral breathing.
It’s simply a matter of inhaling fully through your nose while envisioning your breath expanding your ribcage laterally. Then exhale through your mouth as if you’re blowing through a straw. Try to visualize your ribcage squeezing together and your belly button drawing toward your spine.
Within minutes, you’ll feel your core engage and those organs will be massaged.
Mat Pilates Movements
Performing multiple Pilates movements on the mat can also aid in digestion.
1. Criss Cross
Any movements that require you to twist are extremely beneficial to digestion. One such movement is the Criss Cross.
To do it, you lie on your back on the mat and lift your legs into table top position (i.e. knees directly over hips and bent at 90 degrees).
With your hands behind your head and elbows spread wide, curl your head, neck, and shoulders off the mat as you exhale – twisting your upper body to your right, as you extend your left leg.
Inhale to rotate your body through center.
On the next exhale, twist your upper body to the left and extend your right leg. Inhale back through center again.
Continue this twisting action from right to left eight to ten more times. And don’t forget to keep breathing! You’ll be really wringing out those abdominal organs.
For as helpful as twists are, adding a few other movements can also aid in digestion.
2. Roll up
The roll up is similar to a sit up or a crunch, but it’s more comprehensive.
Lie on your back on the floor with your legs straight and place your arms on the mat behind you.
Take a deep rib-expanding inhale. As you exhale, bring your arms back overhead in an arc. Once the arms have moved past 90 degrees, begin to curl your head, neck, and shoulder blades off the mat.
Pause here to take another full inhale. Then use the next exhale to roll up the rest of the way. Feel your ribs sliding towards your pelvis.
Once you’re all the way up, stretch your fingers towards your toes – keeping a C-shape to your spine.
Inhale to lift your spine from the pelvis up through your lower spine, middle spine, neck, and head until you are sitting on up straight.
Exhale and roll back all the way back down. Then start from the beginning again. Do as many as your body will allow.
3. Pelvic Clocks
Knowing how to read an analog clock will help with this one!
Once again, lie on your back. Place your feet flat on the mat with legs bent, hip-distance apart, and parallel to one another. Arms rest down at your sides with palms facing up or down.
Now pretend there is the face of a clock laying flat on the front of your pelvis.
The 12:00 position is at your belly button, while the 6:00 position sits above your pubic bone. Your bony hip points represent the 3:00 and 9:00 positions.
Tilt your pelvis so that 6:00 (your pubic bone) is pointing upwards and 12:00 (your belly button) has sunk down to come nearer to the mat.
Tilt your pelvis the other way so that the 6:00 is closer to the mat and 12:00 is higher. This should create a bigger curve in your lower back.
Now continue circling the pelvis as if you are rolling a marble around the clock’s face. Then reverse the swirl.
There are, of course, many other mat Pilates exercises that will help with digestion. And a Pilates instructor would be happy to guide you through those.
But if you really want to power up your digestive system, the Pilates Reformer is uniquely qualified for this.
Get on the Reformer
Reformer Pilates has a wide range of movements that you simply can’t find in any other form of exercise.
It’s no big secret that some of our daily activities cause tension to our muscles. One muscle that’s particularly troublesome is the psoas.
This muscle runs from the inner thigh, crosses the abdominal area, and inserts in the low back. When the psoas gets tight, it can cause compression in the abdomen and negatively affect the digestive tract.
Reformer Pilates movements relax the muscles and ease that tightness by working the core in multiple directions while simultaneously massaging the internal organs.
The stretching in Reformer Pilates also helps stretch the digestive tract which then aids in the processing of food to maintain a healthy and efficient digestive system.
As a result, the effect of Reformer Pilates on the digestive system is that it helps stimulate detoxification.
In addition, some Reformer Pilates exercises have visceral massage
effects that assists in improving toxin elimination. This release reduces stress and anxiety that can create digestive issues.
In other words, a regular Reformer Pilates practice can help all around with digestive efficiency and reduce irritation in the gut.
And you’ll get stronger too!
Detox with Pilates
As you move into the new year, remember to be kind and patient with yourself.
Most of us overindulged during the holidays so there’s no sense in beating yourself up over it. Now’s the time to take advantage of how Pilates aids digestion and get back on track.
If you haven’t yet explored different options for Pilates, please check out our schedule of classes.
Or contact us today with any questions you might have. We’re here to help.