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The Rehabilitative Truth of Pilates

The Rehabilitative Truth of Pilates

By Dr. Melanie Carminati, PT, DPT, GTS, PMA-CPT®

Before Pilates acquired mainstream association as an exercise system for “sculpted abs” and a “lean body,” there was a transformative purpose to the Pilates method. The foundation for which Joseph Pilates created his method carried greater societal implications aiming to improve overall health and wellness through his corrective method. Joseph Pilates’ intention was to influence global rehabilitation of physical and mental dysfunction.

The Pilates method was originally termed, “Contrology.” Through practice of this systematic program an individual would acquire mindful control of mind, body, and spirit.  Joseph Pilates’ experiences that eventually led to the creation of his method began in Germany.

Joseph Pilates was born in Germany in 1883 and was a sickly child suffering from a variety of respiratory issues. He overcame his own physical limitations with his own system of exercise and bodybuilding.  This experience ignited his passion for “corrective exercise” and guided his future endeavors. Joe continued to study different fitness and holistic therapies including yoga, trigger point therapy, meditation, breath work, and modern dance. He began working as a tumbler in a circus and was taken into custody while touring in England during World War I. During his time as an inmate, Joseph Pilates was utilized to rehabilitate soldiers from the war and acquired experience leading daily exercise classes for inmates.  Soon after he was released from the internment camps, he immigrated to the United States in 1926. During his journey to the U.S. he met his future wife Anna Clara Zeuner who would later assist in teaching his work. He opened his business in New York City within the same building as the New York City Ballet.

Here he gained a reputation for his ability to rehabilitate dancers injuries. Many famous dancers including George Balanchine and Martha Graham studied with Pilates.  His books, “Your Health,” and, “Return to Life through Contrology,” detail his approach to physical and mental healing acquired through his method that leads to increased awareness, decreased physical ailments, and in turn decreased need for hospitalizations.  Pilates died in 1967 after which his students continued his teachings.

Today Joseph Pilates “Contrology” method is known simply as “Pilates.” There are many forms and variations of Pilates’ work that are implemented in multiple setting types.  Pilates can be found in fitness centers, dance studios, and rehabilitation facilities. The form of Pilates that stays true to his global mission of rehabilitation is the Pilates Rehabilitation method most effectively implemented by Polestar Pilates. Polestar Pilates is the rehabilitative form of Pilates that is safe and the most effective at efficiently guiding individuals through recovery towards movement transformation.  Polestar Pilates utilizes the latest research in biomechanics, motor learning, bioenergetics, and communication advancements.

Inspira Physical Therapy in Brooklyn, NY.  All Pilates equipment are utilized and Physical Therapy treatments are provided by licensed Physical Therapists- Polestar Pilates Practitioners. If you have a medical diagnosis such as low back pain, poor posture, or any other medical diagnosis; you can benefit from Pilates Rehabilitation.

Why Inspira Physical Therapy?

We are Physical Therapists teaching Pilates for wellness and injury prevention- we like to think of it as “mindful movement.” Mindful movement is performing an exercise with intent and becoming aware of what that movement feels like and how to incorporate it in your life/other forms of exercise.

Unlike other gyms that offer Pilates classes, our classes are shaped around the individual and their specific body/condition and goals. Our classes are small (5-8 people maximum) and our instructors are highly qualified to help you modify the exercises in order to avoid injuring others. We offer both Pilates Rehabilitation covered by insurance and Pilates wellness classes.

Some Benefits of Pilates:

  1. Improved Posture

  2. Increased flexibility & spinal mobility

  3. Increased abdominal strength

  4. Decreased stress

  5. Heightened awareness

  6. Decreased Pain

Pilates Rehabilitation is the most efficient method that continues the global rehabilitation of physical and mental dysfunction that Joseph Pilates intended. If you have tried Pilates before and felt it was too challenging or are injured, experiencing this method will change your understanding of Pilates. Try it yourself and experience the difference.

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“Contrology is complete coordination of body, mind, and spirit. Through Contrology you first purposefully acquire complete control of your own body and then through proper repetition of its exercises you gradually and progressively acquire that natural rhythm and coordination associated with all your mental and subconscious activities.”

-Joseph Pilates

“If your spine is inflexibly stiff at 30, you are old; if it is completely flexible at 60, you are young.”

-Joseph Pilates