About Pilates Rehabilitation
The Pilates Approach
This unique form of exercise was developed in the 1920s by Joseph Pilates. Born in 1880 in Dusseldorf, Pilates was a somewhat frail child suffering from asthma, rickets and rheumatic fever. His determination to overcome these conditions led him to a study of both Eastern and Western forms of exercise. Applying the principles learned from his studies, he not only improved his own physical fitness but went on to become an active sportsman.
In 1912 Pilates came to the United Kingdom as a boxer. With the outbreak of the first world war in 1914 he was interned with other German prisoners of war. Whilst interned he developed a health and fitness programme for his fellow internees. He later claimed that as a result of his programme, not one internee died in the notorious influenza epidemic of 1918.
Following the war Pilates returned to Germany and continued his work developing programmes of physical exercise. In 1925 he was asked by the German government to start training the German army. However he declined and chose to emigrate to
the USA. On the ship he met his future wife Clara (a nurse), and sometime later they opened a body conditioning studio in New York City. This studio contained machines Pilates himself designed to enhance his rehabilitation work. The studio soon attracted the attention of the sports and artistic communities who perceived the benefits of a programme that integrated mind and body, building strength whilst maintaining flexibility. Many of the elite of the time became regular visitors at Pilates' body conditioning studio until his death in 1967.
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Aged 19, George is at college and coxes for the rowing team. During a race, the boat is hit from behind... More
The Pilates approach
The Pilates approach to exercise is a unique fusion of eastern and western movement techniques. The exercises encourage the individual to consciously sense how and where their body moves in space (proprioception). This allows the mind and body to act in an integrated fashion.
Pilates developed a set of exercises to help achieve this mind body integration by using the following principles:
The original set of exercises have now been modified and enhanced with new knowledge of exercise physiology. Nevertheless, all the exercises used embody the principles listed above. Exercises that consciously combine mind and body interaction, allow an increased awareness of body mechanics, balance, co-ordination, body alignment and spatial awareness.
All these are united through flowing movement linked to our breathing. The exercises are designed to work the body as a whole improving strength, flexibility, posture and co-ordination.
Today this exercise repertoire is offered as a floor matwork class in many health clubs, leisure centres and public halls. These group classes are complemented by a growing number of Pilates studios offering small group (4-6 people) or personal tuition. Many studios are also equipped with a full range of spring and gravity based resistance machines.
In this supported environment the machines then allow our trunk (the torso) or our limbs (arms & legs) to be exercised against the resistance of gravity or the springs.
This is ideal when through weakness or injury the unsupported body would not be able to achieve the same results. The machines also allow the joints of the body to move through their full ranges of movement in a number of planes, something not possible on the floor. This increases flexibility and encourages an all round muscle balance and suppleness.
The Pilates approach has two main applications: general fitness and recovery from dysfunction or injury (rehabilitation). Although the individual exercises
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Now 58, Julie has a long history
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may be modified or differently applied depending on the purpose, the principles underlying the exercise remain the same.
Pilates for fitness is generally taught by instructors with a background in dance, personal training, yoga, aerobics and somatic techniques.
For more information and details of some of the larger training organisations please click here
Pilates Rehabilitation is generally only offered by professionals with a medically based training. These include chiropractors, osteopaths, physiotherapists/physical therapists or experienced Pilates instructors working alongside a clinician.
For Hermes Health, Michael Mehta has undertaken the clinically based Rehabilitation Programme with Polestar Pilates UK Ltd. This comprehensive course is designed to allow the practitioner to develop programmes for all dysfunctions of the neuromusculoskeletal system, chronic pain patients, and specialities such as sports and dance medicine.
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