Pilates and Shoulder Rehabilitation

for more information see www.ipilates.co.uk

Pilates is an extremely popular form of exercise, an estimated 5 million people attend Pilates classes in the UK alone. Below are some of the many reasons for and benefits of, attending Pilates classes:
    As part of a regular fitness programme, it enhances most other forms of exercise.
    As a means of strengthening deep core postural muscles, in an effort to prevent injury.
    On recommendation by a GP, consultant or physiotherapist for a specific condition eg: lower back pain, joint replacement, arthritis, joint surgery, poor posture.
    To rehabilitate following an injury or illness.
    In an effort to create a lean musculature, improving posture and appearance.

Pilates is named after its creator Joseph Pilates (1883-1967), who devised a set of exercises based around what we now call core stability. He claimed that practiced regularly and correctly, these exercises would balance the body and the mind.  His style of exercise owes much to many other popular activities, particularly ballet, although he also incorporated elements from boxing, swimming and gymnastics.
Joseph Pilates working in his New York studio.
We teach Pilates using adapted versions of Joseph Pilates original set of exercises.  The changes that we have made to Joseph Pilates original exercises reflect our improved understanding of the mechanics of the human body, as a result of the advances in modern medicine and are also dependent upon an individuals physical issues and postural type.
Pilates, if practiced regularly and correctly, improves posture, stability of the deep core postural muscles surrounding each joint, muscle recruitment patterns and balance.
The principles of Pilates that are taught include:
    Correct alignment of the body in various different positions, including standing, four point kneeling, lying on your back, lying on your side, lying on your front and lying in prone.
    Lateral breathing technique, which enhances the bodys ability to switch on the deep core muscles in the abdomen.
    Neutral positions for the pelvis and spine, where muscles are at their optimum length.
    Correct recruitment (use) of the core muscles in the torso, leading to correct scapular and shoulder girdle placement.

These principles are continually re-enforced using repetitive exercises that are both challenging and enjoyable.  With practice, movements flow easily from a strong core, creating pain free easy movements, good posture and balance.

Whilst patients are working through their specific rehabilitative shoulder exercises, as recommended by their surgeon and physiotherapist, Pilates can be of enormous benefit.  It will improve and maintain core stability in both the pelvis and lower back, as well as in the thoracic spine and shoulder girdle.
The Pilates principles of Correct Alignment, Body Awareness, Lateral Breathing and Neutral Spine can be applied to any prescribed exercises, to improve the quality of the exercise themselves.
Pilates will increase joint support, through improved strength in the core muscles of a joint. It will also improve normal movement patterns and correct poor muscle recruitment. This is the order in which muscles are switched on to perform a particular movement. Injury and illness often lead to the correct muscle recruitment patterns being lost.
Good communication between a patients Physiotherapist and Pilates instructor is recommended, so that any contra-indications can be discussed.

When looking for a Pilates instructor, particularly if an individual is wishing to recover from an injury, a teacher who is also a Chartered Physiotherapist would be best to approach. The Physiotherapy background coupled with the understanding of Pilates exercises, will enable a teacher to tailor the exercises to the precise needs of the individual. This level of qualifications gives peace of mind that they have a medical background, they will know what exercises can be undertaken and more importantly which should be avoided.
However, in practical terms Physiotherapists who specialise in Pilates are thin on the ground. Most musculo-skeletal Physiotherapists will know a good local Pilates teacher, as more often than not they are attending classes too! So ask them.
There are many different training bodies for Pilates teachers and it can be confusing to know who provides good training and on going continual professional development (cpd).
The best training organisations within the industry are The Pilates Foundation, Body Control Pilates and The Australian Pilates Institute, as these all require experience of Pilates and their courses run for a minimum of several months and in some cases years.  Other less reputable bodies will award a qualification to someone with no Pilates experience after a weekend long course.
www.iPilates.co.uk , which sells high quality, low cost Pilates exercise sessions to be downloaded over the internet.  These workout sessions are in mp3 format, which means that they can be listened to on a computer, iphone or other mp3 player. The audio format, which means you are listening to detailed instructions, works very well. It enables clients to concentrate on what they are doing and to learn to listen to their own body.  This is much harder if you have to keep stopping to watch a video.

For more information please see:

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