Pilates is a popular exercise programme across the world but is also great for rehabilitation. If you’re suffering from an injury or recovering from surgery, Pilates can be your best option, keeping in mind that rehab Pilates is different from exercise Pilates, as the last one does not seek to correct an imbalance or fix an injury.
So many of us have an all-day desk job which causes lower back pain, muscular imbalances in the hip flexors, and from the neck all the way down to the feet. Hence Pilates works on strengthen your body’s core which helps prevent muscular imbalances and reduce stress on the pelvis and spine. Every exercise is modified for any type of injury to reduce stress on the joint and surrounding muscles.
Pre and post-natal Pilates
From the very beginning of pregnancy your body experiences many fascinating changes, all designed to prepare your body for both the carrying of your baby and the eventual delivery. With these changes however, your body will physically adapt and excess pressure can be placed upon certain areas. Some areas can become stretched, strained, weakened and/or overused.
Pilates is fantastic for enhancing this in anyone, but it can be a real life saver during pregnancy, and also postnatal when your body is placed in new postures as you carry, feed, and care for your baby.
The pelvic floor
As the baby grows and places greater pressure within the pelvis, this pressure creates a downward force on to the pelvic floor. In combination with ligament laxity here, the pelvic floor muscles can become weakened. This laxity can last up until five months postpartum, and longer if breastfeeding (Gabbe 2012). These muscles are responsible for supporting the bladder, rectum and uterus. They ensure correct functioning of these organs by assisting the closing force of the bladder and bowel passages to prevent leakage, and allowing relaxation for effective emptiness.
Dysfunction here can leak to urine or faeces incontinence, organ prolapse, localised pain, and painful sex. It has also been related to lower back pain and pelvic pain postnatally (Pool-Goudzwaard et al. 2004). Pilates ensures exercise to the pelvic floor muscles to maintain and strengthen this support network with the aim of minimising any dysfunction postnatally. A strong efficient pelvic floor can also assist in a vaginal delivery as these muscles are contracted to push during labour contractions and relax in between to allow muscle recovery before the next big push!
Pilates exercises will:
- Strengthen the abdominal, pelvic floor, gluteal, and scapular (shoulder blade) muscles
- Provide pelvic stability and strength to minimise any ligament laxity
- Mobilise the thoracic spine and reduce stiffness around the shoulders
- Stretch the chest muscles and open up the front of your body
- Restore correct posture
- Strengthen all major muscle groups in the upper and lower body to ensure strength is maintained for pregnancy, labour, and postnatally.
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