How much do you know about your deep core muscles? You’ve probably heard of the diaphragm and pelvic floor. But what about your transverse abdominis and multifidus muscles? (To name just a couple.)
Chances are, all of this Latin sounds Greek to you.
And if you’re currently trying to recover from an injury that’s left you with a painful knee, hip or shoulder, you probably haven’t thought about the importance of your deep core muscles.
You should though. Because having a strong and stable core is the foundation for a healthy body. And this is the first step in how Pilates helps with recovery.
Pilates Is More Than a Workout
Yes, Pilates goes a long way toward developing flexibility, good posture, strength, and balance. But Joseph Pilates actually developed these movements as a recovery routine early in the 20th century to help injured World War I soldiers recovering from injuries. And it was amazingly effective.
It soon caught on and traveled throughout Europe and then eventually the United States. And while it’s become a popular work out to help strengthen core muscle groups and posture, it’s also gaining momentum with physical therapists for its therapeutic benefits.
While the importance of strengthening should not be discounted, a healthy body also requires a balance between stability and mobility. And it all starts at the center.
Pilates targets the intrinsic musculature of the spine and the joints to keep them functioning on a mechanical level. But there’s also a strong focus on alignment. And this is crucial for not only recovery, but also preventing further injury.
What Makes Pilates for Recovery So Effective?
In a nutshell, Pilates emphasizes correct spinal and pelvic alignment, proper breathing and concentration on smooth and controlled movement – all in an effort to help those recovering from injuries to become more attuned to their bodies and how they move.
Also, Pilates is more concerned with QUALITY of movement versus quantity of reps. Several muscle groups are exercised and trained at once in smooth, continuous movements to restore muscular balance. Such muscular imbalances are a major component to injuries. And most people have these imbalances – since we all tend to be stronger on one side than the other. It’s just a fact of life.
The Power of the Spring
No, we don’t mean the season.
Rather, the springs on the reformer machines allow for a full range of fluid motion with ease and control. All movements work in cohesion with the springs, offering just the perfect amount of resistance. This relieves stress on tendons, ligaments, and joints while still focusing on movements that require a neutral spine and focus on keeping a strong core.
By limiting movements primarily to this mid-range of the body (sometimes called “the playing field” in Pilates) core alignments are never compromised and injuries are far less likely to be exposed to the herky jerky uncontrolled movements that so often jeopardize or even reverse rehab.
Controlled and Informed Movements with Breath
A significant part of what makes Pilates such a safe and effective form of rehabilitation is that is requires intentional movement. Appropriate muscle groups that need strengthening can be isolated and targeted. This is particularly important when it comes to strengthening the smaller muscles that surround an injury, as their support is necessary to heal faster.
Furthermore, there’s the component of conscious breathing in Pilates – the importance of which traditional therapy often underscores. When done correctly, conscious breathing moves the breath to injured areas to provide better circulation and relieve pressure points. It also helps the diaphragm to stabilize the trunk.
The bottom line?
Pilates essentially helps people understand where their body is in space, then takes it one step further to educate them on the best sequence and way to complete movements to decrease stress on injured areas.
Is Pilates Right for You?
Pilates helps with recovery in so many ways. Pilates based physical therapy programs are highly adaptable and allow you to work within your own range of movement – depending on how far your injury will allow you to go or not to go.
If you’re interested in seeing how a physical therapist can guide you through Pilates-based exercises to help you reduce or eliminate pain, improve posture, promote fitness and prevent future injury, then contact us today. Soon enough, you’ll know just what you need to do to meet your goals while moving safely, efficiently and with control.