Pilates Equipment

By Sally Ann Quirke, Chartered Physiotherapist | Filed under: Pilates Exercises, Posture Support Products


Choosing Pilates Equipment.

Beyond the Pilates Exercise Mat - there are many types of Pilates equipment used within the Pilates community today. I am going to share with you the pilates equipment which I am familiar with and inform you of the pros and cons on all equipment discussed.

  1. The Pilates circle: This is a resistance circle used to tone the arms and legs in Pilates. It is a flexible circle which you compress as a resistance for strengthening your arms and legs. However, technique is critical - so be sure that you have the correct technique before you embark on any Pilates circle exercise intensively.

    I use the Pilates circle in my classes to facilitate arm and leg tone, but also to help the core work more effectively. Often, if you use your core at the same time as using your peripheral arm and leg muscles the core will work better. The Pilates fitness circle facilitates this. Often. clients who find it difficult to perform an exercise without equipment, find it easier doing the exercise in conjunction with the Pilates circle. We refer to this principle as “co-contraction”.

    One example of using the Pilates circle is the “hundred exercise” - an exercise that is specific to Pilates. My clients often find it quite difficult to perform the hundred exercise. However, when I introduce the Pilates circle as a resistance device between the legs as they do the hundred exercise, they find it much easier. The reason for this is co-contraction. Using your leg muscles, in conjunction with your stomach muscles, makes the exercise easier and often more effective. The body generally prefers to work as a unit with more than one muscle at once. This is a good example of this principle in action.

  2. Foam rollers: These are foam rolls used in Pilates to provide a greater challenge to your core muscles. Once efficiency in mat work has been achieved, lying on a foam roller can challenge your tummy muscles all over again! However, it is crucial that you do not start on the foam roller until your stability system is ready for the challenge that it introduces. The challenge is that the foam roller provides an uneven base which challenges both your core muscle system as well as you balance. Used incorrectly it can be the cause of many injuries. Always use the foam roller under the guidance of a well trained Pilate’s instructor or physiotherapist/physical therapist.

  3. Theraband: Is one of my favourite pieces of Pilate’s equipment. It is a resistance band used to provide a greater resistance to your working muscles. What I love about this piece of equipment is that it often facilitates your muscles to work more efficiently at the same time as making you work harder. Used incorrectly - it can be a great cheating device, so as always get good instruction on its use

  4. Pilates Balls: These are large inflatable balls used in Pilates to facilitate your core muscles. They can be used for balance, as a weight, or to facilitate your body’s position. They are great fun! However, make sure you are using the correct-sized ball for your height and weight as this is very important. Finally, a good quality ball is a must as if it collapses under you as you are doing an exercise it can result in injury.

  5. The Reformer: This is a wonderful piece of Pilate’s equipment. It is a bench like device with resistance pulleys for your arms and legs. Used correctly it is magical! However you need to have a good grasp of mat work and the Pilate principles before you use a reformer.

    Personally, I do not believe people without great Pilates experience should use a reformer, as compensation patterns resulting from incorrect use can result in further muscle imbalance and injury. Always seek a professional’s opinion about using a reformer, particularly if you suffer from back or neck pain.

  6. Hand weights: Are usually in a soft ball shape for Pilates. I use 1 kg weights to help tone the arms and to also facilitate core performance. They are also great fun! However, if you have any pain be sure to use weights only if instructed by your physiotherapist/physical therapist, as further pain may result.

While the content and materials contained in the articles on this website have been written & researched by Sally Ann Quirke, a professional, practising & fully qualified Chartered Physiotherapist (Physical Therapist) based in Ireland, they are provided for general information and educational purposes only. They do not constitute medical advice on any particular individual situation. Please see your Chartered Physiotherapist or other medical practitioner for full and individual consultation.

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