Have you ever considered how Pilates and physical therapy can work together for your benefit? What if the ultimate goal of your physical therapist was to embrace the clear connection between Pilates and physical therapy fully?
Today’s medicine has changed. More and more physicians are recommending Pilates, along with physical therapy, for their patients suffering from knee, foot, shoulder, neck, and back pain.
But are there benefits you can experience even if you’re not currently in need of physical therapy? There certainly are.
Here, you’ll learn all the details.
History of Pilates
Joseph Pilates developed the exercises named after him during World War I, to help rehabilitate the sick and injured people under his watch. After witnessing the success of this program, Joseph and his wife focused on using the special exercises and equipment to help rehabilitate dancers, post-war.
The system is an exercise method based on six overarching principles:
The focus is on stretching, balancing, and strengthening the entire human body. By strengthening and stabilizing the body’s core muscle groups, the fitness and therapy regimen optimizes the performance of your body through a stable connection of the mind and body.
Primary Benefits of Pilates
Before we get any further, let’s take a look at the core benefits you’ll experience:
- Improved overall flexibility
- Improved sense of balance
- Elongated muscles
- Improved coordination
- Improved strength
- Better body posture
- Injury prevention
- Enhanced performance
- Better body awareness
It’s the perfect component to add to physical therapy treatments because the goal should always be to return a patient to their full level of activity, or even an improved activity level.
This approach treats an extensive array of patient conditions, from acute injuries to post-surgery healing to chronic pain. It’s a truly holistic approach that creates an environment of recovery for the entire body.
How It Works in Practice
It’s become much more common for physical therapists to incorporate this regimen into their traditional therapy practices. Furthermore, it is crucial that the class instructor or therapist you work with has a strong knowledge of the required exercises, methodologies, and equipment needed.
It’s also important to note that the practice of Pilates has a strong focus on physical and mental fitness. Still, it is not intended to treat, diagnose, or prescribe a solution to any disease or injury. But the connection it has with physical therapy can provide patients with an added level to their rehabilitation.
The goal as a training client or patient is to achieve a better overall understanding of your body’s physical health. After an initial assessment or evaluation, customized sessions will get underway that directly address your specific injuries or health needs.
These exercises will have a strong focus on flow, precision, and alignment that will build new levels of flexibility and strength throughout your entire body. While it’s never stressful on joints, it will help you develop better body control using a range of motions that might initially feel uncomfortable.
But this process is all about getting you out of your comfort zone and into a new level of fitness and health.
In time, you’ll learn how to identify the best physical movement sequences for your body when it’s in specified positions and spaces. It’s something you can’t learn on your own, especially if you’re recovering from a significant injury.
Comparing Pilates to Traditional Medicine Practices
Traditional medicine tends to take the path of addressing pain and pathologies. However, this holistic approach addresses more long-term concerns, such as mobility and articulation, body alignment, fluidity and balance, and overall body control.
This approach can provide a unique path toward patient recovery. When added to a physical therapy regimen, it provides an optimal patient-customized treatment and recovery. That’s because the therapist modifies exercises to meet the needs of each individual.
You can go from the most basic movements to the advanced ones, depending on your abilities and level of progression.
Some injuries have no other options but surgical interventions to repair. In these situations, manipulating the process of physical therapy is often a requirement. This exercise adds to the process of healing by emphasizing body movement patterns and how a patient compensates for them after an injury.
Additionally, you can incorporate it into your exercise program even after rehabilitation is complete.
Equipment You Will Need
When starting Pilates, the equipment you’ll use will take you through an entire range of motions that you wouldn’t be able to against gravity alone. For example, if you’re not able to hold your arm up against the standard weight of gravity, a therapist will use a trapeze table. You’ll lay on your side with your arm directly connected to a chain or spring. Then you’ll move the arm backward and forward without being impacted by gravity to begin rebuilding the muscle.
Think of the trapeze table (sometimes referred to as the rack) as a device that allows the highest level of support for the most intense and strenuous exercises. It’s a piece of equipment that looks a lot like a standard massage table but is higher off the ground.
It’s surrounded by a total of four metal posts that connect at the top of the device. Fro the posts hang various pieces of additional equipment such as stirrups, bracing accessories, and a trapeze.
The trapeze table was initially designed for helping bedridden individuals regain control of their muscles and help recover from long-term stiffness and atrophy during extended hospital stays.
The size and shape of the equipment evolve continuously as more people began to use it to improve strength and get into better shape.
Most other exercises are performed on a mat, or equipment that’s referred to as a reformer. The reformer is a long frame that contains a sliding carriage that’s connected to ropes, pulleys, and springs. This equipment was invented for clients that aren’t able to squat or stand on their own. Instead, they set the reformer to a lower spring while still achieving the closed-chain impact of moving or squatting.
5 More Reasons to Love Pilates
1 – It’s an Incredible Ab Workout
This workout and practice benefit your core or “powerhouse,” better than almost any other exercise. Indeed, women who completed 36 full weeks of training were able to strengthen their rectus abdominis (more commonly referred to as your six-pack) by 21% on average.
They were also able to eliminate the imbalances of muscle formation between the left and right sides of the core muscle groups. Balanced core strength is highly essential.
2 – Help Get Rid of Back Pain
When your core is healthy, your back pain will begin to fade. By practicing for as little as four weeks, you’ll probably have more relief from back pain than if you only visit a specialist or traditional doctor.
Beyond that, you’re likely to stay pain-free for a much more extended time. When you work to stabilize the lower back area of your core, you’ll alleviate stress to the region and increase your level of mobility.
Then, you’ll be able to better focus on your goals.
3 – Hone Mental Focus
This a workout that’s genuinely a one-two punch to improving health. In it, you’ll learn to have full control of your breath and body, and how to move in unison with each other.
The practices take a high level of concentration. You won’t be able to zone out during sessions. You also won’t be wasting mental energy on drama, bills, work problems, or other day-to-day issues for an entire hour-long session.
4 – Boost Your Libido
Movements like pelvic lifts are almost like Kegels. They strengthen the muscles on your pelvic floor, which increases your level of pleasure with your partner. This outcome is an unexpected but often welcomed benefit.
Even beyond that, for those looking to conceive a baby, it’ll make the process of natural delivery much more comfortable and less traumatic.
5 – Enhance the Power of Your Brain
This workout method is often referred to as “the thinking person’s exercise.” A group of researchers in China recently measured a group of stroke patients’ brain activity after they completed twelve weeks of Pilates training. The researchers found a noticeable increase in memory performance, cognitive functions, and activity in the neural networks.
Some researchers have even gone so far as to say that Pilates is a useful option for individuals that have cognitive dysfunction or degenerative brain diseases. It does help optimize brain health.
Final Thought: You Will Benefit From Pilates. The Question Remains. When Will You Start?
The many benefits of Pilates are undeniable. Are you an individual facing rehab and therapy? Then, it’s one of the best options when you’re looking to achieve a complete recovery.
However, if you’re in good shape but looking to get in the best shape of your life, it can take your mind and body to a whole new level.
So here’s the bottom line. Pilates is an exercise method that will greatly benefit anyone who wants to improve their life.