Injuring our body is disheartening. It can impact our work and income, our ability to do the things we love like getting out and about with our families - even navigating our homes can become difficult and frustrating. Pilates can be a powerful and effective tool for injury prevention, yet many still picture Pilates as simply a gentle form of exercise, a way to improve flexibility, and a mindfulness activity.
Today, our physiotherapists are shedding light on how and why Pilates is helping countless people prevent painful injuries and what benefits you can expect by adding it to your weekly routine.
First Thing’s First: What Is Pilates?
Pilates is a series of movements and exercises first developed in World War One to help soldiers successfully recover and return to health. Since then, Pilates has evolved and gained popularity worldwide, focusing on the principles of stability, strength, posture, balance, control. When we perform exercises that focus on these principles, particularly in key areas of our body like our core and its deepest muscles, we can optimise our alignment, create correct movement patterns and habits, and have efficiently functioning bodies.
Everyday Life Places Great Demands On Our Bodies
Being mindful and actively working on the way our bodies move and function is more important now than ever, and most of us aren’t doing a great job at controlling it ourselves in both our personal and professional lives. The prevalence of back pain and postural problems is rising worldwide, with a lifetime prevalence of up to 70%. The phrase “Text neck” has been coined to describe a poor postural form arising from leaning forward while texting or looking down at a mobile device, which may also be linked to neck or upper back pain development. We’re diving into hands-on manual labour careers without the right conditioning or taking steps to best protect our bodies, which is being reflected in a shortened working life, increased sickness absence and unemployment rates for jobs that are highly physically demanding.
Simply put: the need for simple, accessible and effective injury prevention strategies is crucial in today’s day and age.
How Does Pilates Help Prevent Injuries?
The Clinical Pilates we offer at PhysioCentral helps injury prevention in numerous ways:
Pilates helps us set strong and healthy foundations
You know what they say about the person who built their house on sand. Pilates focuses on helping you develop a strong powerhouse - your core muscles - which are involved in every action from standing to reaching to twisting the body - and include muscles that attach to the spine. When your core is weak or unstable, or you don’t engage the core during movement, you’re forcing other muscles to work hard to compensate. This means you overwork other muscles, which can lead to injuries like muscle strains, tears and even stress fractures.
Pilates marries both stability and mobility for optimum function
Having weak, tight or unstable muscles or ligaments leaves us vulnerable to injury. If you put all your focus into ticking off your sets during strength training, optimising your mobility and technique can quickly become an afterthought. Some yoga and other stretching-based exercises place so much emphasis on flexibility and eliminating restrictions that we don’t build the best level of strength for our everyday lives. Pilates combines both strength and stability, with mobility and flexibility, in a balanced and healthy way to promote optimal overall function.
Pilates looks at the body as a whole, including muscle imbalances
While, for example, using an ankle brace for unstable ankles looks solely to the ankle joint as the problem (and the solution), Pilates looks at the entire body, how it’s working together, and how the strength or function of one part of the body is, in turn, influencing the rest. This is essential for long-term injury prevention as no part of the body works in isolation but is often heavily influenced by the rest. Muscle imbalances are a very common cause of injury we see and treat, and Pilates helps you address these imbalances, restoring healthy function and symmetry.
Pilates uses functional movements, which optimises our time and effort
While lifting weights at the gym may focus on isolating and working very specific muscles, Pilates provides functional movements that include both open and closed chain exercises. It works the muscles both statically and dynamically, and overall works multiple muscles in a coordinated way with varying concentric, eccentric and isometric actions. The result is that you get the most out of each Pilates session and each set of movements you perform, helping you best optimise your body and help prevent injury.
Pilates teaches you good postural habits
The exercises you are shown and guided through with our experienced Pilates physiotherapists and instructors are done so with optimal spinal and pelvic alignment. Healthy alignment is crucial in improving movement patterns at home, work and when running or playing sport, which helps you prevent injury. Through learning the best techniques and posture, you also improve your body awareness, helping counteract bad posture habits so you stay injury-free for the long term.
Pilates at PhysioCentral focuses entirely on you
We offer two types of Pilates to best suit your needs. Clinical Pilates is one-on-one sessions that are completed together with an experienced physiotherapist, and focus entirely on you, how your body is currently working, where it’s going wrong, your strengths and weaknesses, your techniques, and your unique circumstances - like the demands of your job. This really is key - doing the right targeted exercises in the right way for you. We also offer Pilates with our certified Pilates Practitioners, whose extensive knowledge of the body, mindfulness, control and Pilates principles perfectly comes together to help you reach your goals - whether that’s better posture, strength, better technique - you name it. We also offer Pilates sessions targeted specifically for women in the prenatal and postnatal periods.
We Use Pilates Extensively For Injury Rehab, Too
Studies show that Pilates is also an effective tool for rehabilitation, especially when it comes to reducing pain and disability. Injuries can quickly disrupt the way our body works, especially while the injured area is weakened, inflamed or out of action. This means other muscles need to compensate and work harder to help us keep moving and performing our daily activities. This can lead to muscle imbalances and leave us vulnerable to more injuries and aches. We find Pilates to be a fantastic way to help with rehabilitation, both to the muscles and tissues that have been damaged, as well as the surrounding and compensatory muscles.
PhysioCentral Offers Clinical Pilates Taught By Qualified Physiotherapists & Pilates PractitionersWe’re proud to offer comprehensive Clinical Pilates sessions that are taught by qualified physiotherapists and Pilates practitioners, renowned for their skill and care. Whether you’re part of a sports team and you feel like an injury is around the corner, you’re starting a new job that is placing new demands on your body, you want better posture, or you’re battling a recently sustained injury - we’re here to help. Book your appointment with our fantastic team by calling +852 2801.4801 or book your appointment online.