Pilates “Centering” Technique Leads to More Muscle Recruitment

by Shirley Archer, JD, MA on Sep 19, 2013

Mind-Body-Spirit News

New research involving the Pilates centering technique will be of particular interest to Pilates pros and other instructors who emphasize engaging core muscles while doing exercises that challenge arm and/or leg movements.

A small preliminary study showed that centering—or activating the abdominal muscles, lumbar multifidus and pelvic-floor muscles—while dynamically contracting the biceps brachii under a load resulted in more recruitment of upper-arm muscles compared with doing the same movement without a conscious core contraction. Results were recorded using electromyography.

Alexandre Wesley Carvalho Barbosa, PT, MSc, PhD, professor at the Federal University of the Valleys of the Jequitinhonha and Mucuri in Diamantina, Brazil, said, “Some muscles, even [those] distant from the abdominal wall, can be more recruited with the centering technique proposed by Pilates. Exercises could be more effective using this powerhouse contraction.”

The study appeared in the Journal of Bodywork & Movement Therapies (2013; 17 [3], 385-90. doi: 10.1016/j.jbmt.2013.01.003). More research was recommended.

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About the Author

Shirley Archer, JD, MA

Shirley Archer, JD, MA IDEA Author/Presenter

Shirley Archer, JD, MA, was the 2008 IDEA Fitness Instructor of the Year and is IDEA's mind-body-spirit spokesperson. She is a certified yoga and Pilates teacher and an award-winning author based in Los Angeles, California, and Zurich, Switzerland. Two of her books, The Walking Deck and The Strength and Toning Deck, are now featured as iPhone apps. Contact her at www.shirleyarcher.com.