Pilates is a great tool to assist or even enhance a physiotherapy program when someone is recovering from an injury.
By strengthening the deepest muscles of the core, optimizing alignment, and creating correct movement patterns, we can also help to prevent reaggravation of those injuries and the development of new ones. PTs 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! Here are the 10 fundamental reasons, both scientific and practical, that make Pilates so effective in injury rehab and prevention.
A strong, optimally functioning body must be both stable and mobile. Adequate stabilization proximally enables us to attain optimal function distally. Being too loose (hypermobility) or too tight (hypomobility) can both lead to injuries and pathologies. Weight-lifting regimens often emphasize stability to the point where the person is so stable he or she cannot move. Certain types of yoga or stretching programs, on the other hand, focus so much on stretching that people end up with a weak core and hyperflexibility, which can lead to conditions of instability.
In Pilates, some of the exercises focus on stability (front support), some focus on mobility (kneeling arm circles) and many provide a perfect combination of both (diagonal pull). Thus, Pilates emphasizes both stability and mobility, allowing us to achieve optimal performance and helping to prevent injuries. Stability + Mobility = Agility.
Pilates exercises enhance both stability and mobility; include both open- and closed- chain exercises; and work the muscles statically and dynamically (emphasizing both concentric and eccentric phases). All of this leads to the conclusion that Pilates is a very functional type of exercise.
When functional movements such as walking or running are performed, a single muscle does not work in isolation. Such movements often involve multiple muscles - some working concentrically, some eccentrically, and some isometrically - in a highly coordinated manner to achieve the desired action. Many Pilates exercises simulate everyday activities, which makes them perfect for injury rehab and prevention. In everyday life, frequently we need to be able to perform such tasks as lifting our carry-on bag and placing it in the overhead compartment on a moving airplane. This takes not only dynamic upper extremity strength, but also scapular stabilization and core stabilization. An exercise such as the kneeling biceps on the reformer simulates this type of action.
The concept of functionality in rehab also means we must look at what the client needs and make our exercises task specific. Is the client a cyclist needing upper body flexibility, a football player needing strength, a desk jockey needing postural exercises to reverse the effects of sitting all day, or an elderly woman who needs to be able to get up from a seated position? The huge repertoire of Pilates exercises provides endless options to allow us to make the exercises appropriate for all types of clients.