If you’re one of the many millions of people in the UK who work in an office you have probably, at some point, suffered from an aching back, shoulders or neck from hunching over your laptop for hours on end. Incorporating Pilates into your working week can do wonders to help banish those niggling aches.
Here are a few reasons why you might want to try adding Pilates into your routine:
1. Look up and stretch
Regularly using a laptop or a computer screen that isn’t positioned correctly can put a huge strain on your neck and shoulders. Additionally, the modern addiction to texting or driving for long distances can have an equally damaging effect, resulting in poor posture, rounded shoulders and a stiff, forward-stooping neck.
Exercises that stretch your upper back, open up the pectoral muscles across the chest and focus on the alignment of your spine (including your neck & head) can really help to address these common issues. There are a multitude of exercises within the Pilates repertoire that can help and you won’t believe how much taller and happier you’ll feel afterwards.
2. Put some life back into your legs
Not only does sitting at desk affect our upper body but the muscles in our legs, particularly the hamstrings and hip flexors, can become very tight from hours of inactivity. Have you ever got up from your chair after a long meeting or a marathon typing session to find your leg muscles have seized up or become painfully stiff?
The good news is that it doesn’t have to be that way. Pilates is the perfect antidote and will start engaging those muscles that feel tight and help to loosen them up. In fact, it’s not just the legs that benefit but your whole body will start to feel freer and the aches and pains will lessen.
3. Unwind and de-stress
If you’re in a demanding job, you probably crave some ‘switch off’ time. With Pilates, there is so much to think about – your breathing, your posture and muscle focus, etc – and each lesson includes lots of short bursts of different exercises that it’s almost impossible to hold on to the stresses of your day at the same time. It’s quite common to get to the end of an hour’s lesson without even realising where the time has gone and the rejuvenation you can feel from switching your mind off from any challenges you’re grappling with, even for just an hour, is amazing (I speak from experience here!). Having some time away from all that stuff whirling around in your head can do wonders to make you more productive, happier and better at problem-solving in the long run.
4. Safeguard your body
As the saying goes, you get out what you put in, and this phrase is never more true than when referring to our health and wellbeing. Making an effort to look after your body will reap huge rewards later in life. Regularly attending Pilates lessons can be a great way of building your body’s resilience, helping to make you less susceptible to injury. The focus is on strengthening your ‘core’ abdominal muscles but actually every part of your body will work hard and benefit.
Plus, if you’re unfortunate enough to have picked up an injury somewhere along the line, Pilates can really aid your recovery by helping to build up those muscles that may have become weakened and ensure your posture and alignment gets back to how it should be. Pilates can also be a brilliant tool both pre- and post- pregnancy with lots of focussed, careful exercises to support your body in regaining its strength.
5. Working out without the faff
If you’re like me, the prospect of schlepping to the gym before (during or after) work with make-up bag, hair straighteners and change of clothes in tow is so unappealing that exercise gets banished to the occasional weekend at best. Well, help is at hand in the form of our good friend, the Pilates class.
Pilates isn’t really a cardio workout so you won’t tend to get out of breath and sweaty in the same way that you would in a usual gym class. In fact – shock, horror – you may even be able to make it into work afterwards with a quick application of deodorant and a comb through your hair. Hooray for hassle-free workouts!
But, that said, don’t be fooled into thinking that Pilates is easy – the exercises can be very intense and you will definitely feel like you have worked hard but in a satisfying, I’ve-achieved-something-I-didn’t-think-I-could-do sort of way rather than a bloody-hell-I’m-knackered-and-can’t-breathe sort of way. The chances are you’ll enjoy it and want to incorporate it into your routine on a regular basis.
So, there you go. Pilates has so many benefits and, best of all, it can be extremely rewarding and enjoyable. Why not give it a go and see what you think?