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A Pilates mat is a crucial piece of kit for anyone with hypermobility. Research shows that in just 12 weeks, mat Pilates significantly increases flexibility in the body, including the hamstrings. As flexibility can reduce injury and improves blood flow around your muscles, everyone with hypermobility should regularly take part in Pilates while utilizing a suitable mat.
In this article, we’ll explore why having a dedicated Pilates mat is important, what kind of mat is suitable for Pilates, and whether there’s a difference between a Pilates mat and a yoga mat.
What kind of mat is good for Pilates?
When it comes to choosing a mat for Pilates, individuals with hypermobility should prioritize certain features to ensure optimal support.
A good Pilates mat must have ample cushioning and support, as many Pilates exercises involve lying or sitting on the mat. As hypermobility causes joint instability, it’s crucial that the mat you use minimizes excessive pressure on the joints and spine.
With this in mind, look for a mat that offers both comfort and thickness to provide sufficient padding. This extra cushioning can help protect your joints from strain or injury during exercises.
A Pilates mat with a non-slip surface is also essential for people with hypermobility. This feature ensures better traction and stability, reducing the risk of slipping or sliding during movements.
What thickness of mat is best for Pilates?
The ideal thickness of a Pilates mat for individuals with hypermobility may differ from that of others. While most Pilates mats range from 6 to 10 millimeters in thickness, it’s generally recommended for those with hypermobility to opt for a thicker mat. A thicker mat offers enhanced cushioning and support, which is crucial for joints that have a larger range of motion. If you have knee pain due to hypermobility, a thick mat is a must.
Choosing a thicker mat can help minimize the pressure placed on your joints and spine during exercises. It provides a more forgiving surface, reducing the risk of discomfort or injury. However, it’s essential to find a balance that works for you. Some individuals with hypermobility may prefer a slightly thinner mat to maintain a stronger connection with the floor, enabling better stability during movements.
As a general rule, these are the thickness ranges of Pilates mats and what they’re suitable for:
|Thickness Range (mm)
|Thinner profile, firm, and stable surface
|Individuals preferring stronger floor connection
|Medium thickness, balance between cushioning and stability
|Many individuals, including those with hypermobility
|15 and above
|Thicker profile, extra cushioning, and support
|Individuals with joint issues or seeking softness
What is the best flooring for Pilates?
While the right Pilates mat is essential, the type of flooring you practice on also plays a role in your overall Pilates experience, particularly for those with hypermobility.
Optimal flooring should be even, clean, and provide adequate shock absorption. Hardwood or laminate floors are generally considered good options for Pilates as they offer stability and are easy to clean.
Carpeted surfaces should be avoided for Pilates, especially for individuals with hypermobility. The softness of carpets can hinder movements and compromise stability. If you’re practicing at home and don’t have access to suitable flooring, you can place a firm, non-slip mat on top of the carpet to create a more stable surface.
Can I use a towel as a Pilates mat?
While a towel can serve as a temporary solution if you don’t have a Pilates mat readily available, it’s not ideal for regular practice, especially for individuals with hypermobility.
Towels lack the necessary thickness and cushioning to provide adequate support for your body during Pilates exercises. They may also slide or bunch up, increasing the risk of accidents or injuries. As people with hypermobility are already at increased risk of fractures, bruising, dislocations, and subluxations, a suitable Pilates mat is essential.
Is there a difference between a Pilates mat and a yoga mat?
Although Pilates and yoga mats may appear similar, there are distinct differences between the two, particularly concerning hypermobility. While both mats provide a supportive surface for exercise, a Pilates mat is specifically designed to cater to the needs of Pilates practitioners. It offers additional cushioning and support to help protect joints during dynamic movements and exercises.
Pilates mats often have a non-slip surface, which is beneficial for individuals with hypermobility. This feature helps maintain traction and stability, reducing the chances of slipping or losing balance during exercises. While a yoga mat can be used for Pilates, it may lack the necessary thickness and grip required for optimal support for people with hypermobility.
Should I take my own mat to Pilates?
Taking your own mat to Pilates classes is a great idea. By bringing your own mat, you have control over its thickness, cushioning, and non-slip properties. It ensures that you have a surface that caters specifically to your hypermobile needs and provides the necessary support for your joints.
Using your own mat also ensures cleanliness and hygiene, as you’re not sharing equipment with others. This can be particularly important for individuals with hypermobility, as they may have specific considerations regarding joint health and hygiene.
Plus, having a familiar mat can provide a sense of comfort and stability, enhancing your overall Pilates experience.
As you can see, having a dedicated Pilates mat is essential for anyone with hypermobility. Choosing a mat that offers proper cushioning, support, and a non-slip surface is crucial for a safe and effective workout. Investing in the right equipment and practicing on suitable flooring can enhance your Pilates experience and help you achieve your fitness goals while minimizing the risk of injury. So, make sure to find a mat that caters to your needs and enjoy the benefits of Pilates with confidence!