PILATES FOR REHABILITATION
Mary Beth Blend, MS, PT, OCS, Cert. DN
What is Pilates? Pilates is a series of nonimpact exercises that both lengthen and strengthen muscles, improving flexibility, strength, balance and coordination. Joseph Pilates, founder of the “Pilates Method”, was born in Germany in 1880. As a child, he struggled with rickets, asthma, and rheumatic fever. In his determination to become stronger, he developed a conditioning regime that would later become known as Pilates. During WWI, Joseph was trained as a nurse and designed exercises using springs and straps from hospital beds to help disabled and immobilized patients regain strength and movement. Joseph Pilates emigrated to the U.S. in 1926 and opened his first Pilates studio in New York City, catering to dancers, athletes and actors. His methods later spread into fitness studios and rehab centers worldwide.
How can Pilates help me? Pilates exercises are helpful in preventing and rehabilitating from injuries such as low back pain due to the emphasis on improving posture and increasing flexibility. Lim EC, et al. (2011) Effects of Pilates-based exercises on pain and disability in individuals with persistent nonspecific low back pain: a systematic review with meta-analysis. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther Feb; 41(2):70-80. Athletes interested in improving core strength and flexibility can benefit. The exercises can also be easily modified for older adults and those who are deconditioned (“chair Pilates”). Standing Pilates exercises area excellent for improving balance. For those with osteoporosis, Pilates is a gentle weight-bearing form of exercise that can help prevent fractures, improve posture, and promote bone growth.
Why should I do Pilates with a physical therapist? Your physical therapist who is trained in Pilates for rehabilitation, will help you focus on proper form and technique and can easily modify the exercises for you to prevent strain on weak or injured areas. Physical therapists are specialists in movement analysis, injury prevention and postural alignment.
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