Improve strength, decrease pain with Pilates

Treat your body as a whole

Pilates is a well–known method of exercise--in the U.S. with over 5 million individuals participating regularly.  It was created by German fitness trainer Joseph H. Pilates who suffered from asthma, rickets and rheumatic fever.  He managed to overcome his physical limitations by developing his own program of exercise and bodybuilding.  Joseph left Germany and immigrated to the United States.  He and his wife Clara opened a fitness studio in New York, and much of his early work was done with Ballet artists.  Joseph and Clara’s work was passed on through their students.  

Today, very few still practice Pilates in its original form, most instructors and rehabilitation specialists now use modified versions of the original method.  There are three guiding Pilate’s principles: whole body health, whole body commitment and breath.  Each of these is an integral part in achieving whole body development and complete coordination—our body does not work in part—but as a whole.   

Pilates exercise method is designed to condition and connect body and mind, correct muscle imbalances, improve posture, improve flexibility and strengthen the muscles.  The muscle strengthening focus is on the body’s core.

The goals and benefits of this method are improved:

  • Coordination

  • Strength

  • Mobility

  • Efficient movement

  • Flowing movement

  • Mental and spiritual rejuvenation

  • Self-awareness

  • Self-confidence

  • Restoration of natural movement

  • Integration of mind, body and spirit

  • Sense of well being

  • Enhanced quality of life

What does this mean to you?  Pilates can promote improved strength, balance, posture, coordinated movement, and weight reduction.  You may notice decreased pain when your posture improves, you use the right muscles at the right time and with the right amount effort.

Pilates can be performed as mat exercise or on Pilate’s equipment.  One of the pieces of equipment used often is the Pilates Reformer.  This piece of equipment allows one to adjust the resistance with springs of different resistance.  This allows the patient to exercise PAIN FREE.  We hear many of our patients say, “My other exercise hurts—why doesn’t this hurt?  

Pilate’s reformer exercise can be done from lying, kneeling, sitting and standing.  This allows the therapist to adjust the exercise to the level of fitness and control of the person exercising.  For example, if the patient has significant foot pain during exercise, the patient may achieve results by performing the exercise from a lying or non weight bearing position.  Pilates provides an abundance of advantages to your body that does not require intense weight lifting.  

In the clinic, patients are treated on the reformer as well as given mat exercise that can be performed at home.  Its simple to work Pilates  into your ordinary routine.  For you to receive maximum benefit, it is important that it be practiced on a regular basis.

To check out your breathing, try this simple exercise.

Lie on your back.  Place one hand on your upper chest and one hand on your abdomen.  Inhale and exhale assessing where the majority of the movement is coming from.  If the movement is dominant in the upper thorax, that represents a bias towards accessory or upper chest breathing  If you notice greater displacement in the lower abdomen, that would represent a greater tendency to breathe with the diaphragm.  Now place your hands on your lower lateral rib cage.  This will help you assess whether there is a greater tendency to expand the thorax laterally or anterior-posterior.

Breathing is just one example of focus during Pilates exercise.  

Questions??   Give us a call-we are motivated by the lives we impact.

Jan Hanson, M.S., P.T.