Pilates is an innovative system of mind-body exercise developed by Joseph Pilates in the early 1900s. It was designed to build strength without adding bulk and to create a sleek, toned body. The Pilates method, as well as the specially designed apparatus used with the exercises, focuses on core postural muscles that keep the body balanced and are essential to support the spine. Pilates is a resourceful chronic pain treatment modality, because it teaches awareness of neutral spine alignment and strengthens the muscles that support this alignment. Pilates can be an effective modality for chronic pain treatment program, because the alignment helps treat and prevent back pain. It also improves strength, flexibility, and conditioning of the muscles of the hip and pelvic girdle. Controlled Pilates exercises are performed slowly and gently, while always maintaining good posture. These exercises may be done with or without a Pilates machine. Key principles include:
- Mental focus (the all-important mind-body connection). Conscious control improves movement efficiency and muscle control.
- Central thinking. Focusing inside the mind keeps the body calm. Focusing on the torso (abdominal muscles, pelvic girdle, lower back, and “glutes”) helps develop a strong core and enables the rest of the body to function efficiently.
- Alignment. Keeping the body properly aligned with a neutral spine is important for good posture.
- Stability. Before you move you have to be stable, the starting place for mobility.
- Form. Pilates is more about form than completing sets of repetitions.
- Breathing. Deep, intense breathing activates deep muscle control and keeps you focused.
- Fluidity. Graceful, nonstop motion characterizes Pilates, rather than forced repetitions.
- Integration. Several different muscle groups are engaged simultaneously to control and support movement.
Practicing Pilates regularly—and correctly—may yield a variety of benefits, including decreased pain, increased lung capacity, improved circulation, better balance and coordination, improved flexibility, and increased strength. This blog post is an excerpt from A Day Without Pain (Revised) by Mel Pohl, MD, FASAM; Published by Central Recovery Press (CRP). photo credit: Robert Bejil Photography via photopin cc