Pilates for injury prevention and pain management

Have you heard of Pilates? A lot of Pilate’s studios are popping up lately, and for good reason. It is an effective method for improving a golfer’s swing, a runner’s endurance and speed, a dancer’s technique, a tennis player’s game, and helping lower back pain, for example. Pilates enhances performance by engaging the core for more power. It also teaches individuals how to safely participate in sports and activities by avoiding future injury.

Most of us know Pilates as a form of exercise. But do you know it is also an effective form of physical therapy to improve balance, lengthen and the strengthen muscles? It can be incorporated into almost all patient therapy programs for all levels. Pilates is performed sitting, standing, kneeling or lying down, according to a patient’s activity tolerance. For example, injury or long-term illness may make it difficult to handle doing squats. With the use of a Reformer (specially designed sliding table with springs, ropes and pulleys), one can do squats lying down while maintaining proper position with minimal or no pain without placing much pressure on the joints. Each exercise is modified for each person, and yet, is very effective. With Pilates, patients learn to control their bodies and correctly position themselves, helping them to achieve maximum results.

Pilates is a physical fitness system similar to yoga, but focuses on building the abdominal, oblique, lower back, inner and outer thigh and butt muscles. The principles behind Pilates include controlled breathing, strengthening the body’s core and learning to move correctly with proper spinal and pelvic alignment and stability. It is about learning how much energy or force to use so you do not hurt yourself or set yourself up for overuse leading to injury.

The core is considered the “center” of the body. Focusing on the core from the inside out is different from traditional exercise programs that place emphasis on specific body parts, like the arms and legs. Pilates incorporates the use of simple exercises that require a great deal of precision, concentration and control. One can perform Pilates with just a mat, or use equipment like a Pilates ring, exercise ball, Cadillac table or a Reformer.

Doctors now recommend Pilates to patients with injuries as well as back, shoulder, neck, knee pain and more, as a safe and effective means of therapy to restore function. Pilates, when used as physical therapy, can help to strengthen the harder to find deep core muscles that are essential to healing and maintaining a healthy spine and joints. The rehabilitative effects of Pilates are several. Pilates is very effective in enhancing mental awareness and improving range of motion, coordination, physical strength, flexibility, endurance, posture, stability and balance.

If you are a candidate for physical therapy and would like to try Pilates, check to be sure your physical therapist is properly trained in Pilates. Email barclayphysicaltherapy@comcast.net  or call 248-853-5853 to find out more.