Many clients want to know the difference between Pilates and Gyrotonic exercise systems. Ron explains the difference and how both systems are applied to rehabilitation.
While Pilates emphasizes correcting specific postural and muscular imbalances, Gyrotonic focuses on rotational multidirectional movement designed to mobilize the body’s energy system and release areas of restricted flow. It is particularly useful in the treatment of spinal injuries, and for individuals with chronic neck and back pain, sciatica, shoulder impingement, injuries from car accidents, fibromyalgia, scoliosis, repetitive stress injuries, and performance and sports injuries.
“Gyrotonic movements increase flexibility and strength. By increasing the functional capacity of the body in a natural and unforced way, it promotes a balanced flow of energy, and clearer perception and senses,” Jegadeesh says. Recognizing that what patients really want is to experience a pain-free lifestyle, both Pilates and Gyrontonic movement systems seek to prevent and eliminate musculoskeletal pain by restoring the body to its maximum functionality and most efficient state.
Using Pilates, an exercise regime first developed for rehabilitation in the early 20th century, patients work on strengthening the muscles from the inside out. Layers of muscles in the torso are trained to protect the lower back, which allows the body to perform movements with ease and fluidity. “There’s a big difference between teaching Pilates as a form of exercise and using it as a form of therapy,” Jegadeesh says. “The principles of Pilates are awesome for rehabilitation, but if they aren’t used in conjunction with proper therapy techniques, it could aggravate the injury.”
That’s why having a therapist trained in Pilates- based physical therapy is essential. Ron has treated many patients who have tried traditional physical therapy at other facilities and met with limited success. Pilates-based physical therapy provides total conditioning that exceeds standard calisthenic, isometric, or isokinetic exercises. By putting the emphasis on balancing the muscular structure, patients will experience more joint stability and mobility, and more freedom of movement. The result is that clients can eliminate pain, improve function, and prevent the chronic symptoms of many problems, including whiplash and osteoporosis.
A typical course of therapy is three times a week for a month, followed by individualized home programs based on specific needs. Patients often learn Gyrokinesis exercises, which use only a mat and stool, to reinforce the home exercise regime. In our studio, most patients begin with Pilates and gravitate to the Gyrotonic equipment, which includes a pulley tower, Gyrotoner, and jumping stretching board. “Once they experience it, they can feel the difference in how much flexibility and strength they can get,” Jegadeesh says. As the benefits of Pilates in rehabilitation become increasingly apparent, so, too, will the positive effects of Gyrotonic movement. “Spinal mobility is quick to progress using Gyrotonic equipment,” Jegadeesh says, yet he also emphasizes that Pilates is often a permanently effective tool because it strengthens the entire body and its core musculature.
The goal is to help patients complete their physical therapy and move on to a mainstream fitness program that allows them to remain pain-free and enjoy optimum musculoskeletal health.