Therapeutic benefits of Pilates
You’ve probably heard of people doing Pilates as part of their exercise regimen, but, when performed correctly, many Pilates moves can also help people recover from injuries, while increasing their strength along the way.
Although Pilates was not developed specifically for rehabilitation, it can be used as part of a plan to help people recover from certain injuries, says Laura Keil, physical therapist assistant at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Chicago.
Pilates focuses on strengthening the body’s core—the abdomen, lower back, obliques and pelvic floor muscles. This challenging exercise system builds muscle and flexibility while being gentle on the body. Pilates also focuses on controlled breathing patterns and increased awareness of your body.
“Because Pilates is an exercise method made essentially for everyone, it can be adjusted to fit each person’s flexibility or strength level, as well as the general needs of the patient,” says Keil. “However, what is really important and beneficial to rehabilitation are the principles of Pilates.”
Those key principles are concentration, control, centering, flow, precision of movement and breathing.
“Of particular importance is performing the correct breathing techniques—full inhalation and complete exhalation—while you are exercising,” Keil says. “It helps relax the muscles, manages stress and aids in healing.”
The best Pilates exercises for rehabilitation focus on moving the extremities while keeping the spine in neutral alignment, Keil says. These kinds of exercises help you develop strength while putting a minimal amount of stress on your lumbar spine.
Keil cautions people to be wary of certain exercises when they have an injury. She stresses the importance of consulting with your doctor or physical therapist before starting any exercise program while recovering from an injury. It’s equally important, she says, to learn to listen to your body when you are healthy to prevent injury.
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