Rehabilitation Pilates: What it is and Who it Helps
Rehabilitation Pilates is amongst the best forms of remedial exercise going.
There are many routes to rehabilitation after injury. However, many trainers, therapists, and healthcare providers value Pilates because of its holistically therapeutic nature. It doesn’t simply seek to overcome a given acute injury. It will promote strength, balance, control, good posture, and agility throughout your entire body.
Pilates is an incredibly popular exercise form with millions of adherents around the world. It uses low-impact, light resistance strengthening exercises. In fact, exercises often feature simple body weight, making Pilates cheap and accessible.
Rehab Pilates seeks to use these exercises to help you get your strength back after injury or surgery.
Pilates exercises are good for a few reasons. Firstly, they are completely scalable. A trainer will be able to modify it to meet your individual needs and fitness levels. In this way, the benefits they have to offer – full body strength, balance, control, good posture, and agility – can become accessible to anybody, no matter their physical condition.
A good rehabilitation Pilates regime can help you to strengthen and learn to control the areas around your injury. This means that you will be less likely to reinjure it. Quite often injuries leave us lacking in strength and balance, especially those affecting soft tissue around vital joints such as ankles and knees. Pilates can help you to overcome this.
It isn’t purely physical, either. There are psychological effects that come from injury. It can be traumatic and disheartening; injury can make you feel vulnerable, anxious, and depressed.
Pilates is active. It is not a passive process, but rather has you taking a central role in your own recovery. You become vital to your healing process. In this way, it can allow you to take back control.
What can Pilates help you with?
Rehabilitation Pilates can help with a great many things. In fact, there are few physical injuries that it cannot help you with. You can use it to strengthen muscle and soft tissue after trauma – either injury or surgery. You can use it to stretch out, improving mobility.
In fact, it can be used for more fundamental forms of physical discomfort. Many of us are chained to our desks all day long. We sit on public transport, and we sit in front of our TVs or laptops. This leads to pretty severe muscular imbalances and tightness, especially through the neck, spine, hip flexors, hamstrings, and all the way down to your feet.
This can cause great discomfort and pain. It will lead to poor posture. It can degrade joints that have to take on more pressure than they should. In time, this can lead to pulls, strains, rips, and tears.
Treating these with Pilates
These injuries can all be treated with Rehabilitation Pilates. However, Pilates can also pre-empt them and help you stop them from occurring in the first place. Practising just a couple of hours per week can keep your muscles balanced, your joints mobile, and your body safe.
Pilates mostly aims at strengthening your core. This includes your abdominal muscles, your oblique muscles, your spinal erectors, and any other muscles that keep you upright. Think of them all like a corset, keeping your midsection stable and upright. Strengthening this corset can keep you safe and pain-free, no matter how sedentary your lifestyle is outside the gym or studio.
Rehabilitation Pilates takes this process one step further than regular Pilates. This healing process will contain several elements. They are all borrowed from regular Pilates practised but are applied far more specifically.
It can be used to target specific muscular imbalances. It can be used to zero in on any muscle group and the surrounding areas. Overall, though, it will be used to rebuild core strength up to the highest possible level whilst giving you the mobility and flexibility that you are likely missing.
What makes ‘rehabilitation’ Pilates unique?
Rehabilitation Pilates is different to your run-of-the-mill Pilates gym class.
Firstly, as we have seen, rehab Pilates will have specific goals in mind. It won’t aim to simply build up your strength and mobility, as regular Pilates will. Rather, it will seek to correct a specific imbalance.
Rehab Pilates will also generally be taught by someone specifically trained in physical therapy – or at least it should be. They will be able to teach it one-on-one to make sure that you are safe. They will keep you as free from risk as possible, not hurting yourself or making your injury worse.
Rehab Pilates is in fact highly individualised. Rather than focussing on any of the usual training goals people typically go for – gaining strength, losing weight, improving mobility, and so on – it will be fully tailored to helping them overcome their injury.
How is rehabilitation Pilates different from physical therapy?
Rehabilitation Pilates is a very specific form of physical therapy.
There are a few key differences between rehab Pilates and more traditional therapies, however.
Physical therapists will tend to aim at getting you back on your feet. This is especially the case if you go with the NHS or a similar form of universal healthcare. They want you to be functional, and able to get on with your life. Your actual well-being, and the actual strength and fitness involved, don’t really factor into things.
This isn’t true across the board. Private physical therapists in particular might be able to go further. But this is rare. Usually, you are given a sheet with some exercises on it. The physical therapist will run through them with you, ask you to perform them a few times daily and leave it there.
Rehab Pilates changes things up.
Firstly, it is scalable, as above. This means that a rehab Pilates instructor will keep you progressing. They will begin as gently as you need, then will work up to a level at which your strength and mobility are genuinely improving. This is often above and beyond the level, you were at before your injury or surgery.
Everything is incredibly customizable. You will be getting the exact workout you need, each and every time.
Pilates also puts a lot of focus on the individual. A physical therapist may help you through your movements. They will then keep things static as you work yourself through the same motions, day after day. Rehabilitation Pilates shows you how to rehab yourself, how to push yourself, and how to make and keep yourself healthy.
It also seeks to give you a good working knowledge of how your body works. Again, it is holistic. It aims to teach you how to move, not simply show you a couple of things to overcome a sprained ankle.
Practising rehab Pilates – what does it entail?
So, what exactly will a rehabilitation Pilates session look like? What will your practice look like?
Pilates will see you guiding your own training experience. The point of Pilates is to have you explore and go at your own pace, rather than pushing you to do things for which you aren’t physically and/or mentally ready. You won’t ever want to push yourself into or through pain. The idea is to flow, which you can only do when you are safe and comfortable.
The bulk of your rehab Pilates will be performed on either a mat or a reformer. Mats are cheap to buy – you can get a perfectly good one online for a tenner. Reformers are slightly more specialised. They use a sliding seat attached to pulleys, ropes, and springs. They assist in a broad range of movements, helping you to correct poor form and achieve balance through your musculature.
Depending on your circumstances, fitness level, and injury, you will likely need to start on a reformer. Any rehab Pilates instructor will have one in their studio. They will teach you how to use it, and how to move, and then they will gradually transition you onto the mat. This is likely when you will be able to start practising solo in addition to your one-to-one sessions.
Movements themselves are generally bodyweight or similar. As we have seen, the focus will be on core strength and stability, though you will work your full body through any Pilates workout. Sessions often focus on a mixture of long holds and high-repetition movements. In this way, they overload your muscles, eliciting the adaptation they need.
Basically, they will tire you out just enough for you to grow and make progress.
You should aim for at least one to two sessions per week, though you can safely practice Pilates every day.
How rehabilitation Pilates can help in addiction recovery
There are many ways in which fitness in general can help you through your recovery. We have covered these at great length.
But what can Rehab Pilates specifically help you with?
Depending on your addiction and your circumstances, you will likely have not taken care of your physicality for large portions of your life. It won’t have been a priority.
It is likely for those coming through addiction to have poor posture and plenty of muscle imbalances. You will likely have poor mobility and may be suffering from many aches and pains. In addition, alcohol and certain drugs can actively harm your physicality. They can erode your proprioception and balance, raising the likelihood that you will injure yourself.
As we have seen, rehab Pilates seeks to undo all of this. It can help you to rebuild your balance, posture, and core strength, keeping you safe, fit, and healthy in the long run.
Read more: How exercise can help with joint pain
- What is pilates? https://www.verywellfit.com/what-is-the-pilates-method-of-exercise-2704855
- American Council on Exercise: “Pilates Primer.”: https://www.acefitness.org/resources/everyone/blog/6691/pilates-primer/
- Pilates: how does it work and who needs it? https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3666467/