Pilates for Rehabilitation
Although not widely practiced and typically incorrectly practiced Pilates has become a more common
way to exercise than it was 20 years ago. Pilates is a technique that focuses on core strengthening,
balance, and flexibility. These principles are some of the same principles used in the rehabilitation of
many common orthopedic problems and are the foundation of a healthy body and lifestyle. Pilates has
become more commonly used in the prevention and rehabilitation of these orthopedic problems with
many orthopedists now recommending Pilates as part of or post physical therapy.
Professional athletes in some sports have started performing Pilates regularly to help develop their
core strength and flexibility. Tiger Woods routinely uses Pilates as part of his workout regimen. Core
strength, balance and flexibility go a long way towards keeping athletes and every person injury-free and
will enhance performance in any sport and every day activities.
What Is Pilates?
Pilates is a technique developed by Joseph Pilates in the early 20th century. Pilates developed a
philosophical approach to exercises that focused on three core principles. They can be thought of as the
ABC’s of Pilates conditioning:
How Can Pilates Help an Injured Athlete?
Pilates uses many of the same principles used to help injured athletes recuperate. At AlphaPilates
we have worked first hand with many cancer survivors who need to build strength and endurance
post-surgery as well as those with back, knee and musculoskeletal issues. Pilates focuses on control of
movement, and we can isolate the movement to focus on problem areas that will dramatically improve
functional movement and can help to prevent further injury to the body. Pilates is low-impact and does
not induce inflammation and overuse syndromes.
How Can Pilates Help Prevent Injury?
Pilates is being used by more athletes as a means to "crosstrain." By strengthening the core muscles,
Pilates helps to teach the body more efficient and balanced movement and improves flexibility to help
prevent injury. Athletes who have better core strength are thought to have better dynamic control
of their movements, and are less likely to sustain injuries. This is what is known as "neuromuscular
control," which has been used to prevent injuries including ACL tears and ankle sprains. Naturally,
these same attributes apply to everyone in there day to day activities. Our goal is to improve every
clients “functional movement” in whatever activities they participate in. We have clients from 17 to 77
who benefit from improved functional movement.
A Pilates Exercise Routine Is Rehab and Preventive Medicine
Today, Pilates rehabilitation is seen more and more in physical therapists offices. The Pilates exercise
routine is known for its ability to strengthen your body and improve your posture, flexibility and
Joseph Pilates, the creator of the now famous Pilates exercise routine, was a nurse in the German army
during World War One. It was there that he developed a method of strengthening the muscles of the
soldiers he was assigned to. He attached weighted springs to the soldiers beds and invented the first
Pilates equipment! These soldiers healed and recovered faster than the soldiers who did nothing. In
fact the Pilates method of exercise was invented to rehabilitate patients. It was later that Joseph Pilates
realized that this method of exercise had widespread benefits outside of a hospital setting.
Pilates rehabilitation works for many reasons. The great attention to detail and form is a perfect way
for a client to gain strength in the weaker or injured muscles and joints. Pilates is gentle on the joints, so
there is little worry of over stressing an already stressed body. Pilates also develops the smaller muscle
groups that work to support joints and bony structures. And because Pilates builds a bodily awareness
to balance, chronically weak and imbalanced muscles become equally strong.
Pilates as rehabilitation is also great preventative medicine. Keep yourself strong today and avoid
injuries tomorrow. This is a great metaphor for people suffering from arthritis, osteoporosis or
Pilates rehabilitation not only develops strength, but it increases flexibility in muscles and joints. This
is a particularly important note for people suffering from arthritis. These clients need to keep their
joints “oiled” up. They do that by using them. Use it or lose it! Keeping a full or near full range of motion
in the joints is immensely important to all people, but to arthritis sufferers in particular.
It is important to note that most Pilates instructors are not trained nor qualified to make diagnosis or
treatment plans for injured clients. Pilates instructors jobs are to work in conjunction with physical
therapists, chiropractors, osteopaths, or anyone in the medical profession that is making a diagnosis on
a client. Our job is to teach Pilates. Plain and simple. The Pilates method in itself is rehabilitative and
therapeutic. Don’t count on getting the full benefits of Pilates at a typical gym setting. A fully certified
Pilates instructor at a dedicated studio has hundreds of hours of classroom, testing and observation
hours to learn the methods developed by Joseph Pilates himself.