It’s name sounds like a Greek philosopher, but it’s a fitness craze that’s named after its German inventor, Joseph H. Pilates (pi-LAH-teez). While Pilates exercise has been around since the 1920s, most people are just learning about its ability to help relieve muscle stress, improve posture and lower the risk of muscle injury.
Spectrum Rehabilitation uses a method based on the historical works of Pilates called the Balanced Body method. This method applies the most recent concepts of orthopedics, sports medicine and movement therapy with the methods of Pilates. All Spectrum instructors are certified in the Polestar method, which adds manual therapy skills, advanced body awareness and principles of motor control theory (including Feldenkrais) and Hatha yoga.
The Polestar approach to Pilates exercise is based on four basic principles:
- Stabilization and disassociation
- Dynamic stabilization
- Functional reeducation
These four principles allow for a safe, quick progression of rehabilitation. The Pilates based equipment utilizes a series of springs and extremity attachments to assist a quick progression through these phases. Stabilization and disassociation is important after an injury in order to promote healing of the injured area while preventing muscle atrophy of surrounding areas.
For example, if someone has an acute injury to their back which causes pain when sitting or standing, the Pilates-based equipment can place the patient in an anti-gravity position to train them to move without reproducing pain. The patient learns to use the abdominal muscles to stabilize the spine in a non-painful position. While this position is held, the extremities are trained to move without recreating symptoms. This early reeducation of the spinal muscles promotes healing while simulating real-life activities. Once this phase is mastered without pain, the patient begins the mobilization phase on the equipment. This involves moving the injured area in a pain-free range. The patient may begin bridging, which involves rolling the spine against gravity one level at a time to restore full pain-free range of motion. Once this is mastered, they progress to the dynamic stabilization phase, which uses resistance to restore strength. During the final phase, functional reeducation, the equipment teaches them how to move properly to avoid reinjury by simulating the person’s normal activity. Many functional and recreational activities can be simulated on the equipment, including proper lifting, running or dance training.
Pilates-based exercise offers increased strength in the upper and lower extremities and the abdominals and develops stability of the pelvis, scapula and spine. The end result is a sleeker, more well-toned body appearance and strength and control that enhance daily activities, sports and recreation. Results can often be seen and felt after just a few weeks.
More and more people are discovering the benefits of a Pilates-based workout. Many Olympic and professional athletes, as well as dancers, gymnasts and figure skaters, count themselves among the believers of these methods; however, they can benefit anyone of any age or ability. The Pilates-based exercise can be adapted for a wide variety of populations and diagnoses. It is an excellent complement to any fitness program to increase flexibility, prevent overuse injuries by training opposing muscle groups, and challenging the nervous system to adapt to new training which can increase your performance whether you are a competitive athlete or elite dancer.
For more information about Pilates-based exercises offered at Spectrum Rehabilitation, or to schedule an individual workout on the Pilates-based equipment. Note, a physician’s prescription is required in order to use the equipment to treat musculoskeletal problems.
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