Pilates and Physical Therapy

By Stephanie Muir

Pilates Physical TherapyThe vast majority of people will visit a Physical Therapist at some stage in their life. It is an unfortunate reality that many degenerative diseases are striking ten years earlier in the current generation than previous ones. I am sure many who read this article have experienced anything from back pain to debilitating autoimmune conditions that are on the rise. Even with great strides in technology and medicine today we don’t seem to be able to keep up. This is why combining the medical and lifestyle umbrella can be of use. Physical therapy and Pilates have a symbiotic relationship that support each other in the goal to create efficient and effective movement. Physical therapy under the medical umbrella and Pilates under the lifestyle. In this article, we will be looking at each field and their primary objectives, differences and how a program that integrates both can be effective.

What is Physical Therapy

Physical therapy is a medically recognized discipline that aims to restore functional movement within the body. Those who see a physical therapist (PT) more than likely have a specific issue that needs to be addressed. Doctors and other specialists refer people to see a PT to aid in movement recovery and/or improve one’s movement ability from a performance perspective. Alleviating movement issues brought on by age, injury, disease, disorders, accidents and pain management are all part of a PT’s job description. Assessing, evaluating and formulating a program for a specific issue. In conjunction with exercises, other therapies such as taping, myofascial release, ultrasound and water therapy can all be used by a PT.

What is Pilates

Pilates as some of you may have already read in our previous articles is an exercise discipline named after its founder Joseph Pilates. As a sickly child Joseph Pilates endeavored to build himself up. This lead to him researching and applying a variety of modern and ancient disciplines to heal and strengthen his own body. Constantly refining and perfecting his method which he then called Contrology. His method grew in popularity as it not only alleviated the injured but it also had profound effects on people’s immunity and overall wellbeing. He believed not just in the physical attributes of his method but in the “internal cleansing” effect of oxygenation, blood circulation and the holistic effect movements have on the body. He was a man ahead of his time and knew it. As he is famously quoted saying “I am 50 years ahead of my time”. His exact words ring true today. Instead of dealing with specific issues Pilates works the whole body as a system.

Differences and Similarities

Physical therapy is medical and covered by medical insurance. One would normally see their PT prior to commencing Pilates. This is the normal procedure especially when the patient/client is recovering from an injury etc. Physical therapists work closely with other doctors and are employed to aid in the recovery of specific issues or ailments. Pilates is not medically recognized and using the Pilates method to assist with one’s movement recovery requires clearance from a medical professional.

Pilates falls under the “exercise” umbrella and does not require in depth medical knowledge of the body. Pilates is a method that not only works the body but aims to give the body an internal cleanse through the breathing and exercises. Precise execution and control of the movements in Pilates is the ultimate goal with the reason being that in order to do such a thing the entire body needs come to the party, mind and body. Pilates has a more integrated approach than just aiming for functional movement.


Why are they Beneficial?

The two disciplines work well together as Physical therapy sees the patient/client once an injury or ailment has been diagnosed and attention is needed. As mentioned in the beginning of the article many doctors and osteopaths refer directly to your PT. Pilates on the other hand is a lifestyle discipline that is ongoing and preventative. It not only helps to minimize the chances of many injuries/conditions from occurring again but has a holistic element too. In a nutshell Pilates assists your PT by keeping the client’s ailments at bay by always working on core strength and overall muscular balance throughout the body. Indeed, many can avoid ever having to see their PT by commencing Pilates prior to any known issues in their body.

In summary, the two disciplines work and serve well together to alleviate common ailments and to prevent future ones. So, the next time you find yourself at your PT consider adding Pilates to further your results.

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