What is Pilates?
Pilates is a low-impact form of exercise that focuses on building core muscle strength and maintaining proper spinal alignment. Slow and precise movements are used to strengthen the body’s core muscles, including the abdominal muscles, lower back, buttocks, hips and thighs. Pilates develops strength, flexibility, balance and coordination with a lower risk of injury than many other forms of exercise.
Where does Pilates Come From?
Pilates was developed by Joseph Pilates in the first half of the 20th century. Joseph was an accomplished athlete who competed in boxing, gymnastics, bodybuilding and diving. He developed Pilates with the belief that exercise should strengthen not only the body but also the mind. Pilates first attracted athletes and dancers looking to improve their core strength training for a competitive edge, but is now practiced by millions of people worldwide at all fitness levels.
How Does Pilates Help People with Joint Pain?
The Arthritis Foundation recommends exercise that builds muscle and cardiovascular endurance, flexibility, balance and coordination for people who have arthritis. Pilates exercises helps achieve all of these and more. A study published in the July 2006 issue of the journal of Orthopedic Sports Physical Therapy showed that participants suffering from chronic low back pain who took part in a modified Pilates exercise program reported better relief from symptoms than conventional care, reporting lower levels of disability and reduced pain.
The Pilates exercises require a person to move the entire body, which helps with balance, flexibility and endurance. The exercises also require concentration and improve coordination as well as body awareness.
Is Pilates a Safe Form of Exercise for Me?
Pilates does not involve high impact movements such as running or jumping, and most of the exercises are performed while lying down. This makes it easy on the joints. Pilates can also be modified to accommodate each person’s physical limitations.
Like any form of exercise, Pilates is not risk-free. Patients with unstable blood pressure,blood clots and severe osteoporosis should not try pilates.
Before joining a Pilates class, make sure the instructor is certified and has experience teaching people with chronic joint pain. Ask the instructor if he or she can modify the exercises and provide equipment to accommodate your physical limitations.
Pilates probably won’t replace the medications you are already taking, but it can be a safe and beneficial addition to your treatment program.
Rydeard R; Leger A; Smith D. Journal of Orthopedic Sports Physical Therapy. July 2006; Issue 36, Volume 7, Pages 472-484.