Pilates is a ‘mind-body’ conditioning exercise programme that targets the muscles stabilising the trunk (Anderson and Spector, 2000). The method was the brainchild of Joseph Hubertus Pilates. Born in Germany in 1880, Pilates was a rather sickly child and said to have asthma, rickets and rheumatic fever. However, by the age of 14 he had overcome his illnesses and chose to dedicate his life to physical fitness.
He studied a variety of techniques from gymnastics, zen meditation, martial arts and yoga to the Greek and Roman regimes of exercise. These were the inspiration for his method that he called ‘contrology’. After the first World War, he emigrated to the US and opened the first Pilates studio in New York City. Dancers and other performing artists took a liking to his Pilates techniques and it gained an almost cult-like status among these groups. Following a great deal of research to understand the science behind the art (Hodges and Richardson, 1997; Richardson & Al, 2002), the Pilates method has now become a mainstream form of exercise used by doctors, physiotherapists and physical therapists all over the world. Pilates combines mat and equipment-based exercises that are tailored to the particular user’s needs.
If you have sustained an injury, the aim is to rehabilitate your body with the least amount of stress, strain or pain; this can be achieved by attending Pilates classes. An injury can cause a muscular imbalance, which leads to inefficiency, weakness and therefore can cause pain.
Pilates exercises address the imbalances to allow the body to function at the pre-injury level and reduce susceptibility to re-injury, to either the same or a different body part.
Joseph Pilates developed his method as a means of treating his own ailments by focusing on muscle isolation to strengthen core muscles that weren’t performing well and caused an imbalance. Rehabilitation Pilates retrains the muscles to be more efficient and pain free and to achieve the strength needed to affect a complete recovery. There are many different exercises specifically designed to retrain muscles to move correctly and to return to their pre-injury state.
Pregnancy Pilates is not only a safe form of exercise, but the core principles are particularly beneficial to pregnant women, by increasing strength and providing a feeling of general wellbeing.
Other forms of exercise such as traditional workouts tend to build short weight bearing muscles which are susceptible to injury. Pilates lengthens and strengthens the muscles, improves balance, mobility in the joints and flexibility in the muscles, making them less prone to injury.
Pilates classes are widely used by professionals such as dancers, gymnasts and athletes for improving balance, strength, mobility and flow. Pilates exercises are popular amongst both men and women of all ages, and are equally effective.
People who can take Pilates classes:
Conditions that can be helped by Pilates classes:
Real results can be obtained in 6-8 weeks (by coming at least twice a week).