David Beckham, Madonna, Serena Williams, Jennifer Aniston and Kate Winslet all praise Pilates for helping them to improve fitness, overcome back problems and injuries and increase general well-being. But why is Pilates such a popular form of exercise and why is it now hailed as “the fastest growing exercise technique worldwide”?
Pilates was originally developed by Joseph Pilates in the 1920’s. Joseph Pilates developed a series of exercises which focused on breath control, postural alignment and activation of the deep abdominal muscles. This series of exercises were picked up by Martha Graham and George Balanchine and were quickly adapted into the world of dance as they helped improve strength, stamina and flexibility. Over the following years Pilates has continued to be taught focusing on the key principles of concentration, breathing, routine, precision, control and flowing movement.
There has been a recent proliferation of Pilates classes as people worldwide are committing to what is being termed a more "mindful" and "intelligent" exercise approach. This is because of its ability to develop strength and balance for a large spectrum of health and fitness levels. Over the last 20 years Pilates has been implemented within the healthcare setting as the medical world realises the benefits of the Pilates method for the prevention and rehabilitation of back injuries.
Medical research has shown the importance of retraining the deep abdominal and spinal muscles in order to manage and prevent back pain. The 34 traditional Pilates exercises have thus been adapted to incorporate the recent research on lumbar instability, muscle imbalance and neural tension. This type of Pilates is called Clinical Pilates.
Clinical Pilates is a series of exercises in various different body positions which have been adapted by physiotherapists to make them more suitable for patients with back and neck pain, and those recovering from injury.
As Clinical Pilates classes are led by Physiotherapists, they can utilise their knowledge of anatomy, physiology and injury management in order to deliver the best program for individuals recovering from or suffering with injury. Class sizes are normally small and allow the instructor to monitor each individual closely and ensure correct exercise technique and progression. Clinical Pilates suits all ages and fitness levels and is particularly beneficially for those with back pain, poor postures, sports injuries, arthritis, stress related illness and before and after pregnancy.
In summary, Pilates can be extremely beneficial for patients with certain injuries but it needs to be specific to the individual and not used as a generic tool for everyone. Clinical Pilates identifies this key issue by applying carefully selected exercises to patients with specific injuries. This ensures optimal gains whilst minimising the likelihood of injury aggravation.
If you are interested in commencing Pilates for your injury, it is essential to have a review with a physiotherapist to assess the suitability of a core stability program for you as a one to one session prior to booking onto a course of Pilates.
For more information on Clinical Pilates please contact Perform at Spire Cardiff Hospital on 029 2073 1112.