What ACTUALLY is Pilates?
Updated: Jan 18
Pilates is an exercise modality developed in the early 20th century by German physical trainer - Joseph Pilates. Pilates originally called his method Contrology. Today, Pilates method focuses on neuromuscular training. In both "Contrology" and Neuromuscular training, mind-body connection is the key.
So what does mind-body connection ACTUALLY mean?
Think of it this way: muscles are dumb. Nerves are smart.
We use this method to not only strengthen muscles, but teach them how to work optimally.
Pilates has a global movement perspective. Meaning, the whole body is integrated into each exercise (vs. something like a gym routine that is focused on isolating muscle groups) which teaches your body a more functional way of strengthening muscles. STOTT PILATES contemporary methodology is based on a muscle funtion classification system to provide a framework for programming. In order, it works local stabilizer muscles, global stabilizer muscles, and then global mobilizer muscles.
There are a few things you might notice your Pilates instructor does before, during, and after your session.
Analyze your static posture: How does your body react to gravity? Do you have any visible muscle imbalances? How much awareness do you have of your standing posture?
Various movement assessments: movement pattern tests, janda movement tests, can specific muscles engage? How do your muscles engage? How does each movement react with other body systems?
Programming and application: Strategizing each movement task per your assessment results, add stabilizing disturbances in different planes of motion, work both dynamic and static control, re-train improper movement patterns caused by pain or lack of stability, and repatterning pathological sequences.
Does it ACTUALLY work?
There is significant evidence to support the use of Pilates in conjunction with other medical modalities can work to alleviate problems such as recurring injury, injury post-rehabilitation, and common lower back pain.
One integral tenet of Pilates is that problems in the body's anatomy can affect its proper functioning. Another tenet is the body's innate ability to heal itself. Many Pilates exercises and equipment are designed to help reduce or eliminate the impediments to proper structure and function so the self-healing mechanism can assume its role in restoring a person to health.
Pilates is unlike any other exercise modality as it pushes the boundaries of conventional exercise, fitness, and injury rehabilitation. Pilates accentuates versatility - making it accessible to all bodies. Where most recreational sports, and exercise modalities fall short is that they are often limited to those who do not have a physical or mental disability, older age, fat body, or pregnant body. Pilates is an exercise modality that is well-versed in taking care of all body types.
In patients with chronic low back pain, Pilates showed significant improvement in pain relief and functional enhancement for the treatment of lower back pain. There is substantial evidence that regular equipment Pilates sessions can help with the conditioning of the abdominal muscles significantly. One study shows that ultrasonic examination confirmed that performance of some Pilates exercises (such as the Hundred) using Pilates equipment showed thicker transverse abdominal muscles than with mat-Pilates. This represents more transverse abdominal muscles were activated. The transverse abdominal muscles are deep, cross-joint and local core muscles. The activation of deeper muscles may exert a stiffening effect on the lumbar region to help stabilize the spinal segment. This may lead to improvement in functional activities in nonspecific CLBP patients, in part through an increase in self-confidence.
A Physiotherapist will focus on one body part to find the issue and resolve it, versus an Osteopath will look at the bigger picture to see what needs to change functionally to strengthen a problem the misalignment was causing. Similarly to Osteopathy, Pilates takes a global approach at training individual anatomy; Whereas, in a gym setting training works muscle groups individually. Pilates focuses on training all systems as one integrated unit with emphasis on functionality.