Pilates Based Rehabilitation

Amber Davenport: PT, DPT, CKTP, Pilates Instructor

The Pilates Method was developed by Joseph Pilates during World War I as a form of rehabilitation for ill and injured soldiers. Pilates has become a beneficial mode of exercise, which focuses on whole body control and an integration of strength, stability, flexibility, breathing, and alignment. Based on the principles of breathing, concentration, control, centering, precision, balanced muscle development, rhythm and flow, whole body movement and relaxation, Pilates exercises stress quality of movement.

Using Pilates equipment such as the reformer, or no equipment at all, most Pilates exercises use the individual’s own body weight or resistance in the form of springs to strengthen the entire body. Pilates focuses on the foundation of core and trunk stability without ignoring upper and lower extremity strength, allowing patients to more effectively strengthen their whole muscular system. Exercises vary from small, isolated movement focusing on a couple of muscles to whole body movements integrating multiple muscle groups and joints, while emphasizing the muscle co-contraction, which improves joint stability and dynamic alignment.

When recovering from an injury, Pilates-based exercise optimizes strength and muscle balance, while minimizing load and stress through the joints or other injured tissues. There are hundreds of Pilates exercises that can be tailored to each patient to address their specific impairments, while respecting their healing precautions. Pilates also integrates breathing to maximize core stability and overall muscle function. Pilates-based rehabilitation is designed to efficiently transition each patient back into their functional activities, including daily activities, sports, and recreation. While all programs incorporate breathing instruction, core stabilization, and improvement of overall muscle function, each Pilates-based program is individualized to specifically meet the needs of the patient’s strength and flexibility deficits to match the physical demands of their daily life.

Pilates-based rehab has become more popular in recent years due to its effectiveness and success in safely treating nearly every condition, including post-operative one. Frequently, patients who are introduced to Pilates through rehabilitation end up making Pilates part of their lifestyle in the long-term.