Pilates for Injury Rehabilitation
Many injuries are caused by muscular imbalances within our bodies. And many things cause these imbalances – our posture, the way we walk, bend over, sit, lie down, or work out – basically the way we move. Most of us move incorrectly in some way or another, which puts too much pressure on some muscles and weakens others, causing an imbalance.
Take the back, for example: the way we move may put too much pressure on the spine, while weakening the pelvic muscles in the front of the body or vice-versa. Either scenario creates an imbalance, which means the body is much more perceptible to serious strains, pulls, tears or worse.
Pilates exercises promote an even musculature throughout the body by strengthening the core. The core is considered the “center” of the body and consists of the deep abdominal muscles along with the muscles closest to the spine. Pilates also stresses spinal and pelvic alignment, which is critical in getting us to move the way we’re supposed to move to avoid injury. Pilates also provides a greater degree of flexibility than most conventional forms of physical therapy. This is true because Pilates exercises can be modified for each person and still be extremely effective. You can go from basic movements to very advanced, depending on how a client needs to progress or how badly they are injured.
In addition, with Pilates, clients become responsible for their own rehabilitation. It is not just coming to a therapist, lying down and having them do all the work. With Pilates a client learns where their body is in space and to identify the best movement sequence. All these factors contribute to a positive movement experience, which greatly facilitates a recovery. When you create a positive movement experience, you are able to take a step forward without pain. The more you move without pain, the more confidence you gain. And the more confidence you gain, the more likely you are to try another movement or exercise. That’s a very healthy rehabilitative cycle.
Pilates exercises are performed on the equipment first, because the springs on the Reformer assist the movements a client attempt. This gets them out of bad or incorrect movement patterns they’ve developed which probably led to the injury in the first place. Then, as they progress and are no longer experiencing pain, they can use the mat for home exercises to continue their rehab, strengthen those muscles and prevent further injury.
If you have injured yourself and are considering Pilates, it’s important to make sure that your instructor has physical therapy experience. There’s a big difference between teaching Pilates as a form of exercise and using it as form of therapy. The principles of Pilates are awesome for rehabilitation, but if they aren’t used in conjunction with proper therapy techniques it could aggravate the injury.