The Pilates method is a mind-body technique that emphasises the importance of beginning movement from a central core of stability, through the lumbo-pelvic region. The general philosophy is that injuries are caused by muscle imbalances or misalignments in the body and abnormal habitual patterns of movement. Therefore, by concentrating on the precision of movement, awareness of breathing, and the continued flow of movement, the body can be re-educated and the abnormal movement patterns replaced by correct patterns.
It was developed by Joseph Pilates in the 1920’s in an attempt to gradually mobilise the hundreds of sick people in bed doing no exercise that he saw every day while working as an orderly in a UK hospital. He devised a gentle exercise regime endorsed by the doctors, using the resistance of springs from old hospital beds. His idea was that the springs provided resistance so that the muscles, ligaments and tendons are partially loaded with force or weight. It became evidence that the patients doing Joe’s exercises were improving faster! After moving back to Germany and then to New York, Joe quickly developed a reputation within the dancing world for his method that focused on improving core strength and balance for ballet dancers.
The modern spring loaded Pilates equipment, including the reformer and the trapeze, have come a long way since Joe Pilates manufactured the original equipment using springs from old hospital beds! The modern Pilates method still works specifically to develop the core postural muscles which we use every day to keep our bodies balanced and to support the spine. The mat work uses a combination of 34 strength, mobility and stretching pilates exercises that maintain a central core of stability through the lumbo-pelvic region. Machine-based Pilates uses spring loaded resistance to assist with these exercises.
Important Things to Know
Pilates exercises will promote:
- a keen awareness of breathing
- strengthening of the deep torso muscles important for managing and preventing back pain, and
- good posture and alignment of the spine
Pilates is considered very effective in the rehabilitation and management of back injuries and treatment of chronic back pain.
Pilates can involve exercise mat work as well as machine-based work, and is also thought to be a good way to maintain general fitness.
Any core strengthening Pilates program must be designed and overseen by a trained instructor. Improper or unsupervised use of the Pilates method may result in poor patterns of movement that has the potential to result in (further) injury.