Understanding The Nature of Spinal Extension


Pilates is a wonderful form of exercise, any one who has ever taken up Pilates at one time of his life or another would tell you that. The effectiveness of Pilates on the human body is what makes it so much popular, as within a century of its inception, Pilates has gathered thousands of followers from all corners of the world. These trainers and Pilates enthusiast come from a number of walks of life, and all have the common shared interest- an undying interest toward Pilates. The concept of spinal extension is an important one in Pilates, and this article aims to explore the concept in details.

History of Pilates

Pilates was developed by one Joseph Pilates, a physical trainer working in the war-torn Germany during the First World War. Joseph was given the duty of rehabilitation of the wounded soldiers coming back from the battlefields of the First World War, and it is during this time when Joseph Pilates came up with the principles of Pilates. Though it was developed as a way to heal the injured body, gradually, people found out the added benefits that Pilates come with. To begin with, aside from healing and rehabilitation, Pilates can build up strength and flexibility in the body, and so on.

Benefits of Pilates

To gain these benefits, Joseph Pilates designed a number of exercises that illustrates the basics and principles of Pilates. One of these exercises is the spinal extension, which is a core exercise of Pilates. And when the word ‘core’ is used in Pilates, it stands out as a significant term. The term ‘core’ is used in Pilates to refer to the area of the body that is constructed with the abdomen, the back, the pelvis and the spine. Of these, the spine is least mobile of all. However, there are 3 types of exercises for the spine as well. These are- spinal extension, spinal flexion and side bending and twisting of the spine.

The Spinal Extension

Of these, the focus of this article is the spinal extension. In layman’s terms, it means the backward bending of the spine. The spinal extension is a major element of Pilates, as it helps to strengthen one of the most important parts of the core of the body. A strong spine means better support for the rest of the body, and thus, spinal extensions are significant for the body.

Unlike spinal flexion, where the spine is bent forward in a C like shape, the spinal extension is a more intense and focused workout routine. Spinal extension requires backward bending of the spine, and as a result, apparatus is often used to complete this task. Apparatus like cloth base or trapeze-like machines are quite popular while dealing with spinal extension, and are in common use by Pilates trainers and learners.

Benefits of Spinal Extension

So what exactly are the benefits of spinal extension during Pilates? The first and foremost benefit of the spinal extension is that is strengthens the spine, making is stronger and more flexible. As the spine becomes stronger, it can carry the weight of the body more easily and effectively. Also, the balance of the spine is often distorted due to incorrect postures, which is corrected with the help of spinal extensions. Furthermore, it also helps with the flexibility of the spine. According to Pilates basics, the more the flexibility of the limbs of the body, the less the chance of being prone to injuries.

However, there are a couple of cautionary words for you before you try to do spinal extension. The first is that never do spinal extension exercises when you are in pain. And secondly, do not push yourself to the limit on your first few sessions. Let the resistance and flexibility grow in your spine through time, and then push yourself further.

All in all, it can be said without a shadow of doubt that spinal extensions, and every other type of exercise designed for the spine are very much important to build up the core of the body. Since the core, consisting of the spine, the back, the abdomen and the pelvis of the body is held with most significance of all the regions of the body, the spinal extension is a very significant part of Pilates training.

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