We were not born with winter coats or fleece to defend our bodies from the cold, but we are equipped with a glorious immune system! Our organism is a perfect machine that has the capability of working in many wonderful ways if we only dare to let it. Pilates can help your body to support its immune system in doing what it is supposed to do: protect you against diseases. So let’s welcome the winter and stay healthy!
The cold winter-y weather is a part of our everyday lives at this time of year whether we like it or not, and sometimes this extreme weather change can expose us to a major risk of getting viruses, colds and flu.
The systems that our body uses helps us to thrive and stay alive are our circulatory and immune systems. Part of our immune system called the lymphatic system is a network of tissues and organs that aid our bodies in ridding itself of toxins, waste and other unwanted biological materials. With the primary function of the lymphatic system being to transport lymph, a fluid containing infection-fighting white blood cells throughout the body.
Now unlike the cardiovascular system, the lymphatic system does not have a pump (the heart in this instance), therefore it relies solely on two things effectively transport your lymph(s) from one part of your body to the other – through our innate movement of muscles and breathing. This ritual of controlled yet fluid movement perfectly reflects the fundamental principles of Pilates method!
Obviously, this is not the only way to achieve our objective of staying healthy and in tune with our immune system/bodies; however, we can certainly feel reassured about the fact that a consistent Pilates practice brings about not only flexibility, better posture, co-ordination, mind body balance and control but most importantly it is an holistic way to boost your immune system! My recommendation, as the Head of Dynamic Pilates at Reform, for the winter season is to engage in a consistent Pilates regime. One which focuses on breathing, mobility and elongation, thus creating space against compression in order to facilitate lymphatic flow and enhance circulation might be better than a winter coat.
Let’s get started…
Starting with some light abdominal work, I would suggest incorporating the Short Box series which brings about more eccentric and concentric contractions as opposed to the traditional 100s movement. The Short Box series entails an isometric contraction, therefore less movement and more activation and engagement of the abdominal area.
Going further, the Hip Work series on the Reformer or Cadillac is a wonderful way to mobilize your hip joint and help to reverse circulation as our feet will be in the straps circling up in the air for quite a bit of time.
Photo: Hip Circles
The footwork which we often start our sessions with at Reform is another amazing exercise for ankles and knees mobility; two areas which are often neglected in the bigger scheme of things. By including footwork into your routines helps to brings elements of lengthening while generating concentric and eccentric force along our legs. Performing these moves on a Cadillac or Reformer series will certainly help the lymphatic system due to the fact that you are required to lie down supine and therefore counteracting gravity a little easier – opposed to standing or sitting.
Photo: Single leg heel
Another movement to consider for keeping your immune system at its peak is one that uses the Wunda Chair Pikes; which is yet another beneficial exercise for full body workouts. This specific movement is one I highly recommended for those who wish to promote fluidity and reverse circulation.
Last but not least, doing some form of Back Extensions on the Reformer can also promote good lymphatic flow. For example, pulling straps 1 and 2 (or alternatively Prone 1 and 2 on the Cadillac) and in turn performing the Prone position. This particular posture provides a lot of emphasis on spinal elongation rather than compression or load.
The winners are probably short and long spine on the reformer and breathing on the Cadillac.
These exercises combine specific breathing patterns with abdominal stabilization and spinal articulation.
However, let us not forget about the importance of practicing consistent Mat Work as an effective way to combine movement, breathing, fluidity and coordination.
“The mind when housed within a healthful body possessed a glorious sense of power” – Joseph Hubertus Pilates
Your health – Joseph Hubertus Pilates