By Joanna Starkey, DPT, CHT
What Is Pilates?
Pilates is a method of exercise that consists of
- low impact flexibility
- muscular strength
- endurance movements
It is a system of exercises designed to improve physical strength, flexibility, posture and enhance mental awareness. Pilates is a series of about 500 exercises inspired by calisthenics, yoga and ballet.
Pilates emphasizes the use of the
- core abdominals
- lower back
Patients exercise with attention to proper breathing and abdominal muscle control. Breathing is often the hardest part of learning the exercises. But it is the most important part.
Who was Joseph Pilate?
In the 1920’s, physical trainer Joseph Pilates introduced Pilates to America. His goal was to help injured athletes and dancers safely return to exercise and maintain their fitness. Since then, Pilates has been adapted to suit people in the general community. It caters for everyone from beginner to pros. You can perform exercises using your own body weight, or with the help of various pieces of equipment. Pilates is different from yoga. Yoga is made up of a series of positions that are held. Therefore, this exercise is based on putting yourself into unstable postures. They are challenging their body by moving your limbs. In my experience, Pilates and Yoga are both helpful with some patients.
The Two Basic Forms of Pilates are:
1) Mat-based – this is a series of exercises are done on the floor using gravity and your own body weight to provide resistance. The main aim is to condition the deeper, supporting muscles of your body to improve posture, balance, and coordination.
2) Equipment based – this includes specific equipment that works against spring resistance. This includes the ‘reformer’ which is a moveable carriage that you push and pull along its tracks. Some forms of Pilates include weights (such as dumbbells). Other types of small equipment that offer resistance to the muscles.
Health Benefits of Core Exercises:
- Improve flexibility
- Increase muscle strength and tone. Particularly in abdominal muscles, lower back, hips and buttocks (core muscles)
- Enhance muscular control of your back and limbs
- Improve posture
- Improve stabilization of your spine
- Safe rehabilitation of joint and spinal injuries
- Prevention of musculoskeletal injuries
- Improve concentration
- Increase lung capacity and circulation through deep breathing
- Relaxation of shoulders neck and upper back
- Stress management and relaxation
- Rehabilitation or prevention of injuries as it related to muscle imbalances
Click to Learn How to Prevent Injuries in Pilates.
In conclusion, Pilates can be a great way to stay active and keep you healthy.
Core Training in Physical Therapy
Core stabilization and strength training are an important part of physical therapy. Many physical therapists use Pilates exercises are part of treatment programs.