PLANO, Texas — Pilates is increasingly being used in physical therapy clinics as a complementary form of treatment, said Jake Spivey, a physical therapist with SportCare & Rehabilitation — a Vista Rehab partner.
As such, Spivey’s clinic in Plano, Texas has one certified Pilates instructor and three more physical therapists trained in Pilates positions and equipment.
“Most people seek out a physical therapist for a particular issue — for example, recovery from an injury or surgery, or pain in a particular part of the body,” Spivey said. “Incorporating Pilates into the treatment plan goes beyond rehabilitating one area of the body to improving overall strength and movement throughout the entire body.”
Pilates is a system of exercises designed to improve physical strength, flexibility and posture designed in the early 20th Century. It can be done on the floor with a mat, but it often involves special apparatus, including the Reformer, which is a sliding carriage inside a large frame connected to springs, ropes and pulleys.
According to Spivey, one of the key benefits of Pilates is building core strength and stability. When your core is strong, it serves as the center of power so your limbs don’t have to work as hard at moving.
“Think of Pilates as using dynamic motion to create strength and flexibility,” Spivey said.
Pilates exercises are typically controlled and precise, allowing the body to build strength in the smaller muscle groups that, in turn, allow the larger muscle groups to move more smoothly and efficiently.
Pilates is especially effective in helping with back pain, Spivey said. A stronger core supports the spine better, it teaches and helps maintain proper alignment and posture, and it promotes gentle stretching of tight back and neck muscles.
Other benefits include improved posture, longer and leaner muscles, better coordination and balance, and increased circulation and energy. All of these result in increased performance in several sports and hobbies including strength training, running, skiing, tennis, golf, dance, and yoga, all of which can be prone to repetitive stress and injuries.
Pilates also promotes movement in several planes, moving the spine from flexion to extension and internal rotation and side bending, which improves flexibility. Maintaining precise and controlled movements reinforces effective movement patterns that reduce stress on joints, tendons, muscles and ligaments.
Decreased stress and increased strength and flexibility minimize injuries.
Finally, Pilates improves bone density. Bone is also a dynamic tissue that responds to resistance and weight-bearing exercise, according to Spivey.
“Pilates is an incredibly effective tool in restoring our clients to performance levels,” he said. “Once they’ve done it, they also see the advantages in continuing that form of exercise and movement.”