Has your Pilates instructor ever directed you to sloow down? If you’ve worked out at Bodytonic Pilates, you’ve certainly heard this cue in one if not many of your classes. While this direction could be stemming from a number of objectives, one of the most common reasons to slow down while you are working out is to elongate and emphasize the time spent time spent in eccentric contractions, basically that part of the exercise that your muscles are producing force and lengthening as opposed to producing force and shortening (concentric). For those of who are familiar with the Pilates exercise the Teaser, when you are rolling up into your teaser you are contracting rectus abdominis (6-pack abs) concentrically, when you roll down and out of your teaser you are contracting rectus abdominis eccentrically. Now, if you let gravity take over and just plop down out of your Teaser, you reap little of the benefits that eccentrically contracting rectus abdominis has to offer. Focusing on eccentric contractions is a very efficient way to develop strength and flexibility, and increase metabolism.
The following two articles nicely cover the benefits of eccentric contractions. The first is a nice layman’s read and the second is a little bit more scholarly and geeky, it goes into muscle cell structure and biomechanics (sliding filament theory).
Read the layman’s article
Read the geeky article