According to Craig, "The deeper you get into the work and the more you understand its principles, the more Pilates should expand into other parts of your life. It's not about compartmentalizing exercise into one or two sessions a week or building up some muscle groups and neglecting the rest. Instead it cultivates an awareness of your spine, posture and everyday movements. This translates into how you lift a child, sit in front of a steering wheel or bang a tennis ball." (Craig, 2001)
It is clear, then, that Pilates truly does affect people's recovery from injury through rehab. Because of its generalist applications, and focus on back strength and flexibility, Pilates is a one-stop shop for those looking to make their daily lives more pain free and those looking to accelerate their recovery from falls and sprains, for instance.
Pilates is mental as well as physical work. One must begin by apportioning some time for oneself in a silent, uncluttered room to help one focus. Proper breathing is fundamental and will help relax one and make the movements effortless. The exercises are not repetitious, as mentioned above, so there is no risk of harming performance in other activities.
It is appropriate to focus on the basic principles, according to most experts including Crawford and Craig:
Concentration -- engage your mind on what your body is doing.
Control -- coordinate your body so that movements are not haphazard.
Centring -- work from a strong core.
Breathing -- breathe three-dimensionally into the rib cage.
Postural alignment -- be aware of the position of your body at all times.
Flow -- slow, supple, graceful movements.
Precision -- exact, economic, accurate movements.=
Stamina -- introduce the element of intensity to build endurance.
Relaxation -- learn not to overwork the body.
That sort of monomaniacal focus on these principles will allow more rapid rehabbing of injury. Specifically, horseback riders who are sidelined with injury may benefit from Pilates the most out of any other sport. The well-regarded Web site www.allaboutpilates.comclaims that, "Pilates helps horseback riders immensely. Dressage depends on balance and subtle movement. Pilates has given me the ability to balance and improve my communication with the horse. Pilates is an amazing complement to the conditioning you get riding." (www.allaboutpilates.com)
Pilates also helps with those recovering from back injuries and elbow injuries associated with tennis. With the constant pressure on the back with serving and overheads, Pilates methods not only improve one's tennis game, they reduce any pain associated with the sport.
Cycling, as an activity that requires abnormal bending and pronation of the spine, also benefits from proper Pilates workouts in that it is very easy to hurt oneself on a bike - from a fall or a bad back - so rehabbing from injury is critical, and Pilates can speed that process.
Surprisingly, American football players also benefit from Pilates workouts. According to www.allaboutpilates.com,"So many professional sports men and women are using Pilates as part of their overall fitness regime. The Superbowl teams were caught on TV 'rolling-like-a-ball'. The '49ers have been interviewed and admitted doing it. Why? Well, it's back to the basic Principles for the most part. Use the right muscles for the right job - don't let your low back take over. As Karen Sanzo (ww.pilatesunlimited.com) says, Activate not aggravate. A well rounded Pilates workout will do wonders for any sport. Then you can specialize, use the footwork to keep the whole leg aligned, therefore becoming more efficient and more effective." (www.allaboutpilates.com) And those injured in football who are rehabbing and unable to play have cited Pilates as the route for the quickest comeback.
In fact, in general, "Pilates is an excellent rehab system for knee, back, hip, shoulder & repetitive stress injuries. A holistic approach is used to address the body's imbalances, and to treat the root of the problem; correcting asymmetries & chronic weaknesses to prevent re-injury and bring the body back in balance." (Ellie Herman Pilates)
Specifically, for instance, Bonnie Carr, director and owner of Balanced Body Pilates in Gainesville, FL, has worked with members of the University of Florida's women's gymnastics team, runners, divers and high school athletes. Balanced Body Pilates is a private physical therapy and wellness practice that offers one-on-one training.
Carr notes that teams typically have a limited amount of funds and Pilates isn't usually included in their method of training. Many times though athletes' parents will bring their children in and pay for the specialty training to see better sports performance, decrease their risk of getting hurt or for injury rehabilitation. (Shaver, 2004)
There's no doubt that this gives athletes that extra edge," Carr said of Pilates training. "Some athletes have incredibly weak cores. You can't tell because they have incredibly hard bodies, but after training, performance improves and injuries decrease." (Shaver, 2004)
It is clear, then, that Pilates is here and here to stay. Not only is it an activity in its own right, it truly helps reduce pain and improve the speed of recovery through rehabilitation.
The focus on the 9 principles truly allows an individual who is rehabbing to complete that process more quickly - and more painlessly.
Craig, Colleen. 2000. The Pilates Path to Fitness. Alive Magazine.
Crawford, Elisabeth. 2002. Master class ballates: Balance on the Ball: Exercises Inspired by the Teachings of Joseph Pilates combines Pilates and stability ball exercises to create an innovative workout. American Fitness: May-June 2002.
Ellie Herman Pilates. 2005. www.ellie.net.
Glosten, Beth. 2005. What is Pilates? Harmonia Riding.
Shaver, Jennipher. 2004. Pilates flourishes at universities. Fitness Business Pro.
Siler, Brooke. 2000. The Pilates Body: The Ultimate At-Home Guide to Strengthening, Lengthening,…