Why Pilates works.

Instructor helping woman with Pilates exercises on Wunda Chair.

When thrown unexpectedly into injury and recovery, there is a time of trial and error with finding what works and what doesn’t to get you back on your feet again. Often this is a very frustrating time, and it can be difficult to figure out how to move again, and most importantly how to move without pain.

As an active person, I was used to certain types of movements to stay fit and feel strong, and also to alleviate stress. The gym was my go-to, with a steady routine of high-impact cardio and weight-training. Neither of these were conducive to my new life of recovery. All of a sudden, sitting upright for more than a few minutes was difficult, and any semblance of cardio consisted of a slow walk to the end of my street and back. This went on for 2 years, despite daily Physical Therapy until I decided that I needed to find a new way to move or I wasn’t going to get back to my life.

As a curious person, I researched all types of movement that could be used therapeutically. The two options seemed to be yoga, or something called Pilates. I tried three types of yoga, and decided that my hypermobile and injured body was not going to accept it yet. So that left Pilates. I knew nothing about Pilates at the time, but what I quickly learned in just the first hour was that it was magic for my body. I could do everything without pain, even the hard stuff. This was confusing to me as I could barely stay upright on my own outside of the studio.

I struggled with understanding why I couldn’t sit up for an hour but I could do Pilates and feel great. I soon realized that these were the reasons why…

  • I felt safe in the studio, it was not a fear-inducing environment. My Teacher was knowledgeable and attentive, and most important encouraging with even the smallest successes, which on some days was just breathing.
  • The movements were gentle, and progressions were possible when my body was ready and willing. The purpose of Pilates is to move with the greatest ease versus effort, so finding the effortlessness in each movement allowed me to be successful quickly.
  • I was taught to be mindful about every movement, nothing was haphazard or unpredictable. I didn’t have to overthink anything, I could just move in an integrated and organized way without fear.
  • I was supported by the mat, the apparatus and also the teacher. Many of the movements were lying down in various positions, so my spine was able to feel supported by a surface as I moved. The tactile feedback then allowed me to continue to feel this support in upright positions.
  • Most importantly, I felt strong and able for the first time in a long time.

There are many forms of Pilates, and I happened to find a Teacher that was able to tailor my sessions to meet my needs and where my body was on any given day. Pilates has evolved so much since I started, and now can be found in studios and Physical Therapy clinics internationally for both fitness and rehabilitation. Look for the right teacher for you, ask lots of questions, and inquire about their training and experience. Pilates is for every body, and there is someone out there for you.

Written by
Holly Wallis, Certified Movement & Rehabilitation Specialist, PMA®-CPT
Director of US Operations, Body Harmonics Pilates & Movement Institute
Studio Director, ReActive Movement, 6200 LaSalle Ave, Oakland, CA 94611

© 2019. All rights reserved.


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