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Pilates and Physical Therapy: A Perfect Pairing

“Do you think Pilates could help me with my pain?”

This is a question I was asked many times during my first several years as a Physical Therapist. This question, along with my own experience of seeing benefits in posture and strength with Pilates, led me to pursue additional training in Pilates-based rehabilitation.

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Pilates Rehab at GPT

What Is Pilates?

Pilates is a mode of exercise that was first developed in the 1920’s (if you want to know more of it’s history check it out here). It has surged in popularity over the past 15 years.

Individuals are often hesitant to try Pilates, wondering if they need to be a dancer or have a certain level of fitness to participate. However, one of the many advantages of Pilates is that it is a low-impact exercise system.

It is used to address posture, flexibility, coordination, strength, breathing patterns, and overall mind body awareness. Pilates has been used for rehabilitation from its very beginning. Joseph Pilates developed his exercise system during World War I while working with individuals who were bedridden due to various physical injuries and diseases.

Pilates focuses on “movement control”, teaching precise movements and muscle activations through exercise that allow for improved quality of movement. Better movement makes daily tasks, such as sitting, walking, squatting, and bending, easier.

How is Pilates incorporated into Physical Therapy at GPT?

At GPT, Pilates-based rehabilitation is a service offered as part of your physical therapy plan of care. You will be evaluated by a licensed physical therapist, who has additional training in Pilates-based rehabilitation.  An evaluation will be performed to assess your posture and alignment, mobility, strength, balance, and overall movement coordination.

Based on the assessment, your therapist will develop a treatment plan that focuses on Pilates-based exercises to address your symptoms and areas of concern.  You will learn exercises that can be performed at home using an exercise/yoga mat and you will also perform exercises on specialized equipment such as the Pilates Reformer during your appointments. These exercises will help to improve your strength and flexibility and retrain your movement coordination to reduce pain and improve function with daily activities.

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The pilates reformer

Pilates-based rehabilitation can be an appropriate treatment option with or without prior Pilates experience. When you are ready to be discharged from PT, your therapist will help you to transition to an exercise program that you can continue independently either at home or at a local Pilates studio.

Here is a list of common conditions that can benefit from Pilates-based Rehabilitation:

  • Low Back Pain including sprains, strains, arthritis/degenerative changes, and disc or nerve involvement

  • Posture Impairments including kyphosis, scoliosis and workplace/ergonomic related pain

  • Neck Pain including whiplash, strain, arthritis/degenerative changes, and disc or nerve involvement

  • Osteoarthritis

  • Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome

  • Women’s Health and Postpartum including diastasis recti, abdominal and pelvic floor weakness

  • Most orthopedic injuries including injuries to the shoulder, hip, knee, and foot/ankle.

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Do you have questions about Pilates-based physical therapy? Contact GPT today!

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