Blending Physical Therapy and Pilates
If you’re a fitness enthusiast, you’ve probably seen all manner of blended classes lately. Pilates is a particularly popular practice for infusing into other fitness regimens. For example, Pilates and yoga blend nicely. Another less conventional pairing that’s showing up on the scene lately is Pilates and spinning. (To each his/her own.)
But what about blending physical therapy and Pilates?
After all, Pilates emphasizes ways to optimally move the body that positively impact the nervous system. The moves are designed to cause less strain, wear, and tear on the body. So really, it makes perfect sense it would blend so well with physical therapy.
The Rehabilitative Origin of Pilates
While finding physical therapists with a Pilates background is still challenging, there is an increasing number of PTs utilizing Pilates movements to safely rehabilitate their clients. And since Pilates actually originated as a practice with the objective to rehab folks dealing with chronic physical pain, it’s not all that surprising.
Joseph Pilates, the creator of this modality, suffered the effects of asthma, rickets and rheumatic fever as a child. His progressive father introduced him to bodybuilding, gymnastics, and martial arts. In doing these practices, Pilates found that his strength and overall health improved. He firmly believed in the importance of effective breathing and good posture.
As such, he used these practices as a basis for creating his own unique series of training techniques. He even went as far as to design and build his own equipment which is still used today. By the 1920s, the Pilates exercise method was being used to treat injured WWI veterans. Soon after that, Pilates was commissioned to use his new method to rehabilitate injured ballet dancers in New York.
Given its strong foundation in rehabilitation, it’s easy to see that Pilates is more than just a trendy form of exercise performed to get washboard abs or a flat belly. And physical therapists are taking notice.
Taking It One Step Further
Early adopters of Pilates-based physical therapy saw how effective Pilates was for rehabbing their patients. With a focus on improved balance and posture and increased strength, it’s a beautiful system that helps clients learn their own bodies and what qualifies as proper and healthy movement.
Pilates is comprised of six basic principles – breath, concentration, centering, control, precision, and flow. Corrective movements focus on the following:
- Proper breathing
- Axial elongation and core control
- Spine articulation
- Organization of head and shoulders
- Safe weight bearing
- Alignment of the extremities
- Movement integration
All of this allows for the patient to generate force from both the upper and lower extremities from a solid foundation. And a strong core provides the dynamic link between the upper and lower body.
The Physical Therapy and Pilates Connection
What can you expect from a physical therapist trained in Pilates?
First, your therapist will do a full assessment of your current physical needs. Then, utilizing Pilates exercises in tandem with more traditional forms of physiotherapy (hence the ‘blending’), he or she will focus on movements that strengthen the core and back, correct your posture, and help you regain mobility.
Whether you’re struggling with lower back or neck pain, sciolosis, sciatica,
kyphosis, osteoarthritis, postural impairments, or any number of garden variety injuries to the knee, shoulder, ankle, hip, etc, you can find relief with Pilates-based rehabilitation.
And here’s the cool thing: patients needn’t have prior Pilates experience to benefit from this form of physical therapy. In fact, many patients have their first Pilates experience during rehabilitation of this sort. And an overwhelming percentage of patients transition to an exercise-based Pilates program one they’re done with the therapy.
It’s important to keep in mind though that exercise-based Pilates that’s taught at your local gym or on YouTube is NOT the same thing as working with a physical therapist specifically trained in Pilates exercise and rehabilitation.
You want to ensure that you work with a therapist who’s also a certified instructor and who has updated his/her skills annually with courses that supplement their current knowledge base. You want someone who is able to provide conditioning that exceeds standard calisthenic, isometric, or isokinetic exercises.
Seeking the Next Level of Physical Therapy?
If you’re looking for truly comprehensive rehabilitative services, contact us today. Our team is highly trained and educated in blending physical therapy and Pilates, GYROTONIC®, and Gyrokinesis.
We strive to provide unprecedented quality care in an encouraging environment to enhance performance using evidence-based research, the highest level technology, and cutting edge orthopedic treatment techniques.
Plus, we develop lifelong relationships with our patients and clients with the goal being optimum musculoskeletal health. Always.