By: Emily Hafer, DPT
The practice we now call Pilates was developed in the early 20th century by Joseph Pilates as the name “Contrology,” or the complete coordination of mind, body, and spirit. Joseph’s practice had the three following guiding principles:
- Whole Body Health – development of the mind, body, and spirit
- Whole Body Commitment – mental and physical discipline
By utilizing the above principles, Pilates aims to increase control over one’s body, both mentally and physically.
Pilates for healthy individuals
Aside from the obvious benefit to strength and flexibility that a structured Pilates program has to offer, other positive effects may also occur. With the start of the new school year upon us, we will begin to see a shift in the mood and sleep habits of the younger population. Gone are the days of going to bed at 1AM and waking up at lunch time (at least until next summer). While sleep habits are different for everyone, research suggests that sleep quality changed from ‘insomniac’ level, to what is considered ‘normal’ in college students who participated in a 15-week structured Pilates class. The same study, by Caldwell et al. showed an increase in positive moods, as well as a decrease in negative moods. Also noteworthy, another recent study by Küçük et al. found positive effects on both self-esteem and body image as a result of participation in Pilates. In addition to the favorable outcomes Pilates has to offer for healthy individuals, it also offers many advantages to the plan of care those with a disease or injury.
Pilates for special populations
Completing a Pilates program provides an additional challenge for individuals who are restricted from, or limited in, their daily activities as a result of injury or diagnosis. A large number of the exercises have variations in order to cater to multiple needs and patient types (Pilates For Kids). As many know, an injury to any ligament of the knee (whether it requires surgical repair or not) can lead to limitations in a patient’s activity level. One of the main goals of physical therapy for a patient with a ligamentous injury is restoration of the quadriceps muscle. According to a recent study by Ҫelik and Turkel, there is evidence to support that there is significant improvement in quadriceps strength after a structured 12-week Pilates class, as opposed to no treatment at all. Scoliosis, or abnormal curvature of the spine, is another diagnosis that could see potential benefits from the concepts and completion of a structured Pilates program. Alves de Araújo et al. found a reduction in both pain and muscle shortening, as well an increase in flexibility in individuals with functional scoliosis after completion of a 12-week Pilates program.
Register here for our next available 12-week Pilates mat class.
- Pilates JH, Miller WJ. Pilates’ Return to Life through Contrology. Incline Village, NV: Presentation Dynamics Inc.; 1998.
- Caldwell K, Harrison M, Adams M, Triplett T. Effect of Pilates and taiji quan training on self-efficacy, sleep quality, mood, and physical performance of college students. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies. 2009;13(2):155-163.
- Küçük F, Livanelioglu A. Impact of clinical Pilates exercises and verbal education on exercise beliefs and psychosocial factors in healthy women. Journal of Physical Therapy Science. 2015;27(11):3437-3443.
- Ҫelik D, Turkel N. The effectiveness of Pilates for partial anterior cruciate ligament injury. Knee Surgery, Sports Traumatology, Arthroscopy. August 2015:1-8.
- Alves de Araújo ME, Bezerra da Silva E, Mello DB, Cader SA, Inoue Salgado AS, Martin Dantas EH. The effectiveness of the Pilates method: Reducing the degree of non-structural scoliosis, and improving flexibility and pain in female college students. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies. 2012;16(2):191-198.