As a physio, I am regularly asked by friends, family and patients in the clinic – “What is Pilates all about? Is it just the latest craze? How is it different to Yoga?” We are almost one year into our Pilates program at Innovations Sports Physiotherapy and have had some excellent results and feedback from our always smiling (occasionally grimacing with effort) Pilates participants! I hope this information answers some of those burning questions!
Pilates is a form of exercise that focuses on core stability, flexibility and the awareness of posture and movement. The original pioneer Joseph Pilates, prescribed a series of exercises focusing on the principles of centering, concentration, control, breathing, precision and flow, which he referred to as “contrology”.
The exercises in our Pilates classes at Innovations Sports Physiotherapy are a varied bunch of both simple and challenging mat-based exercises. We utilize apparatus such as the foam roller, exercise ball, resistance bands, wobble cushion, free weights and Pilates Reformer. Emphasis is placed on teaching our Pilates participants how to find and isolate the muscles of the core, with primary focus on the muscles of the abdominal corset (this includes the pelvic floor and deep spinal postural muscles). We then work on building endurance in these muscles before we progress through to more challenging and advanced exercises, in dynamic postures and positions.
Pilates is an ideal form of exercise for many conditions, as the focus is on the “core” or the body’s “powerhouse” group of muscles around the abdominal and spinal corset. The most common condition that Pilates is prescribed for is low back pain. The research shows that 80% of us will experience low back pain at some stage in our life. For 10% of people their low back pain will cause them significant disability. In this particular patient group, the skills learnt in Pilates can be thought of as lifelong management tools.
Pilates is relevant and appropriate for people with back pain, amateur and elite athletes alike, pregnant women, women in the post-natal period, women with pregnancy-related pelvic conditions, individuals with osteopenia or osteoporosis, individuals with knee injuries such as patello-femoral knee pain and people recovering from orthopaedic surgery such as knee replacements or ACL reconstructions.
I believe it is safe to say that Pilates is not just a passing craze! We have seen improvements in strength, function and pain reduction, first hand in patients ranging from post-natal mothers to those rehabilitating from total knee replacements and from recreational golfers to elite ultra-marathon runners.
As Pilates works to improve posture, as well as body and movement awareness, these important skills, combined with strengthening of the abdominal corset are a fabulous way to improve your general strength and conditioning. Please feel free to give us a call if you are interested in learning more about our Pilates program at Innovations Sports Physiotherapy.