Spring tension Vs Technique
Spring tension on the equipment can provide assistance or resistance to an exercise depending on the focus of the exercise.
When we increase the spring tension, we add resistance to build strength and work our big global muscles. When we lighten the spring tension our local (smaller) muscles work to create stability to our joints. When we have weakness in our local muscles our global muscles take over and this is where muscle imbalance and strain in our global muscles from being overworked can occur. Pilates helps us reconnect with our local muscles, to wake them up from their hibernation and get them back to work. If the spring tension is too heavy our body will do whatever it can to create the movement which is counterproductive to the Pilates method.
If you are new to Pilates or used to lifting heavy weights in the gym Pilates can feel quite different to what your body is used to. This is where the magic of technique comes into play to support you in getting the most out of the exercise regardless of spring tension.
During a Pilates class your Instructor will use a number of verbal cues, direct (lift your left leg to tabletop) and imagery (imagine you have an orange under your armpit, and you are squeezing all the juice out) along with tactile cues. These cues support you to visualise and feel where your body is in space and where the movement is coming from.
Focusing on technique allows us to move mindfully, reconnect with our body, increase our body awareness, engage the right muscles and reprogram neuromuscular pathways to create efficient movement patterns which can reduce the risk of injury and muscle strains.
I love Pilates because there are so many layers to an exercise to continue to challenge and engage the mind and body and this is why for me the focus on technique over spring tension to shape the mind and body to a stronger, healthier you wins every time.