MUSCULAR CONTRACTION AND PILATES
When your mind and the body are working together Pilates is quite a simple endeavour. After one session you will feel the difference. After many sessions you will see and feel the difference. When considering Pilates as your primary choice of exercise, or as an addition to your workout routine, it makes virtually no difference. Pilates is tremendously beneficial in both options.
During a Pilates workout, whether it is for someone suffering from pain, perhaps older with muscular atrophying or someone younger or athletic, the muscles of the body top to bottom are engaged. Pilates works your entire body and requires concentration to perform the movements.
The main reason Pilates has the benefits relates back to Science, ATP Muscle Fiber Contraction and the simple nervous system connection between the mind and the body.
“The sequence of events that result in the contraction of an individual muscle fiber begins with a signal—the neurotransmitter, ACh—from the motor neuron innervating that fiber. The local membrane of the fiber will depolarize as positively charged sodium ions (Na+) enter, triggering an action potential that spreads to the rest of the membrane will depolarize, including the T-tubules. This triggers the release of calcium ions (Ca++) from storage in the sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR). The Ca++ then initiates contraction, which is sustained by ATP (Figure). As long as Ca++ ions remain in the sarcoplasm to bind to troponin, which keeps the actin-binding sites “unshielded,” and as long as ATP is available to drive the cross-bridge cycling and the pulling of actin strands by myosin, the muscle fiber will continue to shorten to an anatomical limit.” (1)
When the large and small muscles of the body engage simultaneously, it develops the framework underneath which the bones and organs of the body can find support. As the muscle fibers shorten and essentially “hug” the framework of the body, i.e. the bones, you will feel the benefit of that muscular support. This is the beauty of Pilates.
Start with just that one lesson and pay attention to this, “sequence of events that, “ occur naturally in the body as you engage your muscle fibers. If you have a good teacher and are taught properly you will feel the support of your own muscles and reap the benefits.