If you ever go to the gym or fitness studio, you may be familiar with Pilates. It is a fitness system that is used to strengthen the core through a controlled workout. Pilates has become a popular choice in exercise and a vital tool in physical therapy. I use Pilates in my clinic because it helps strengthen weak muscles and improves movement practices, which help lower the risk of recurring injuries.
What is Pilates: In Pilates we focus on mind-body techniques in order to stabilize and engage the central core. Developing a strong core aids in controlled movement and teaches us to utilize our breathing patterns in order to power our energy systems. The two types of Pilates (mat-work and machine-based work) target core muscles and stabilization through strengthening, mobilizing, and stretching.
Why I use Pilates in Physical Therapy: Before I go into the reasons why I use Pilates as a physical therapist, it is important to understand the causes for recurring injuries: 9 times out of 10, a recurring injury is caused by poor movement practices. These are the seemingly minuscule habits that frequently take a toll on our physical function.
Our poor movement practices are often comprised of stronger muscles overcompensating for weak ones. Why do we do this? It is completely normal for us to use our strongest muscles because our bodies are programmed to do what feels the easiest. However, the easy way out does not always mean the right way. When we primary use our strongest muscles and neglect to strength weak muscles, our body will begin to suffer from imbalance. Imbalance results in injuries.
The reason why I decided to become a certified mat Pilates instructor, and use the technique in my physical therapy, is because I realized the benefit of rehab Pilates to help my patients realign, correct, and re-educate their muscles in order to prevent injuries from recurring. We find that the Pilates method works because it addresses the smaller muscles that are often overlooked during recovery. It helps us focus on balancing the body's muscular system, and through that balance, many other body systems as well.
All in all, I use Pilates in treatment and as a rehabilitation tool because it helps my patients be mindful of the muscles they are targeting. Pilates helps adjust the body in alignment and eliminates bad habits so that injuries do not recur.