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Men Do Pilates Too

Pilates is one of the fastest growing fitness prototypes the world has ever seen. It provides core conditioning, flexibility, strength and mind-body awareness. Unfortunately, the Pilates repertoire of movements, though well suited for dancers, has not always worked as well for men unless special modifications are made.

Men especially find an increase in the risk of low back pain with Pilates. Men are often extremely tight in the low back and hamstrings due to postural issues and demonstrate upper body kyphosis (rounding of the shoulders). Men can also be "flat backed" meaning the hamstrings, gluteals and other lower back and pelvic muscles are tight and weak which contribute to low back pain.

Here are some tips for men when choosing a Pilates class:

* Choose a class designed for men only.

* Choose a small class where individual attention is available.

*Stress maintaining a neutral spine (normal curve) which is difficult for men for reasons described above. Your instructor may make such modifications as placing a towel under the lower back.

*If you have rounded shoulders perform repetitive flexion movements.

* If you have a flat back back without a normal curvature your instructor may place a small towel under the middle of the back to provide awareness of what a neutral spine feels like. Avoid moves like the roll up.

* Don't go beyond what your core muscles can handle. Poor alignment or form are indications of weakness, muscle imbalance and fatigue. Always stop and correct faulty technique rather than continue just to finish a set.

The above are just a few guidelines for men performing the art of Pilates. Men can gain everything from Pilates that women can but caution must be taken when dealing with certain exercises that specifically put strain on men's lower back.

About the Author: Dr Lanny Schaffer is an Exercise Physiologist and the President of The International Fitness Academy. For more cutting edge fitness and health information go to

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