Pilates for Injury Rehabilitation By Samantha Wood
As a physiotherapist who specializes in Pilates-based rehabilitation, my patients don’t often come to see me with the goal of getting fit. They come because of a specific injury or pathology that is limiting their activities. At my wellness center in Pacific Palisades, CA we have been integrating Pilates into patient treatments for over 17 years with excellent outcomes! I have witnessed both first-hand and through research that Pilates, when used appropriately, can be a highly effective tool for therapeutic purposes. Pilates exercises and principles can help patients recover from injuries and surgery, as well as optimize function in those suffering from chronic conditions. By strengthening the deepest muscles of the core, optimizing alignment, and creating correct movement patterns, we can also help to prevent reaggravation of injuries and the development of new ones.
The Pilates Method, especially when combined with traditional physiotherapy or other rehabilitation techniques is well-suited to help manage the dilemma of pain and dysfunction associated with many patient populations. Why is this? Pilates is a mind-body form of conditioning; it’s not just a physical process. I have seen numerous patients over the years reach far greater potential when mental conditioning is integrated into the motor learning and neuromuscular re-education process. As Rael has so eloquently stated- Pilates is not simply exercise, it is a holistic approach to optimizing human movement (Isacowitz 2014).
Pilates is versatile and adaptable, and therefore appropriate for just about any patient or client that we may see. It offers a solution to those with restricted mobility and to elite athletes – from the 93 year old woman with osteoporosis and a total hip arthroplasty to the professional athlete with an ACL replacement. It is as motivating for men as for women and it is safe for all ages when used correctly. Physios are always searching for a system that can take patients from the early stages of rehabilitation to the long-term goal of a conditioned, efficiently functioning body. Pilates is that system! Other rehabilitation professionals often ask me, why do you think Pilates works so well in injury rehab and prevention? Here are what I see as the 10 fundamental reasons:
Pilates focuses on the center or core muscles (aka powerhouse or internal support system). Pilates exercises emphasize both stability and mobility. Pilates includes both closed-kinetic-chain and open-kinetic-chain exercises. Pilates exercises work muscles statically and dynamically—emphasizing both concentric and eccentric muscular contractions. Pilates exercises are functional. Pilates places an importance on breathing appropriately. Pilates is adaptable for many different patient populations. Pilates is a mind–body form of conditioning. Pilates equipment is safe and easy to use (with proper training). Pilates is a wise business choice to expand our wellness services.
As you can see, some of these reasons are scientific, others practical, and others have more to do with the spiritual or mind–body connection. For all of these reasons, Pilates is a valuable tool for rehab professionals to have in our tool boxes. When physios and Pilates teachers work together in the rehabilitation and prevention of injuries, everyone wins- especially our clients and patients!
BASI Pilates offers a variety of courses that teach you how to incorporate both the Pilates Method and therapeutic practices to create sessions perfect for your client or patient:
Pilates for Injuries and Pathologies Certificate Course