Most people have heard of Pilates exercise, which is often lumped into the mind/body category of exercise, along with Yoga, Tai Chi and Qigong. However, Pilates is distinct from those practices in that it was originally developed for rehabilitation and recovery from injury.
Developed in the early 20th Century, Pilates has gradually grown as a popular form of exercise for fitness. However, perhaps its greatest value is in rehabilitating injuries, maintaining efficient movement mechanics and enabling optimal physical performance.
History of Pilates Exercise
During WWI, the founder of Pilates exercise, Joseph Pilates, served as a hospital orderly on the Isle of Man. There, Pilates worked with patients who could not walk due to war injuries. To help support the patients’ limbs and build their strength, he attached bed springs to their hospital beds, an early iteration of what would later become the main equipment of Pilates exercise, the Pilates reformer.
After the war, Pilates and his wife moved to NYC, where they continued to work with patients. They quickly attracted members of the ballet community, who found the Pilate’s technique useful for recovering from injury and improving performance. Today, Pilates exercise is still widely used for dance conditioning and rehabilitation.
Pilates become prominent in the fitness arena in the early 2000s, embraced by celebrities and average people to improve pelvic and low back function, and enhance overall fitness. The technique is particularly popular among individuals who want to maximize functional strength without gaining excessive muscle bulk.
Pilates movements are designed to be performed slowly and deliberately, maximizing muscle recruitment while limiting the forces of gravity and momentum.
The Value of Pilates for Rehabilitation
Many deficiencies in movement mechanics that lead to dysfunction and injury stem from an unstable pelvis and weakened core muscles. Because the pelvic area plays an important role in coordination of movement between the upper and lower body, weak abdominal and pelvic floor muscles can impair movement and lead to injury.
Pilates exercises specifically focus on core, pelvic and trunk strength and range of motion. Regular Pilates exercise builds a strong foundation for all movement, particularly athletic movements like dance that require powerful yet precisely controlled movement and flawless coordination.
Many patients who seek physical therapy are recovering from injury related to physical activity. Others come with back pain, hip dysfunction, faulty gait mechanics and a plethora of other complaints, many of which stem from pelvic instability and weak or imbalanced core muscles.
The intensity and range of motion of Pilates exercises can be adapted to meet the needs of individual patients. Proper technique is critical in order to reap the full benefits of Pilates while avoiding injury. Pilates exercises are usually performed on the floor on a mat, or using a Pilates reformer apparatus. When done correctly and consistently, Pilates exercise can transform the efficiency and function of daily movements, and promote optimal health and fitness.
Pilates Therapy in NYC
The professional team at Physical Therapy Brooklyn at our Sheepshead Bay location incorporates Pilates exercise as one of their many approaches to rehabilitation and functional training. Our Back to Health clinics in the greater NYC area are conveniently located to serve patients throughout our community.
Contact your local Back to Health clinic to ask about Pilates exercise and rehab at Sheepshead Bay. You may also visit us at physicaltherapybrooklyn.com to make an appointment, view our blog, or read about the many services Back to Health provides for physical and occupational therapy in Brooklyn.