Often it is injury that brings our clients to us for the first time, and it is true to say that of our teachers the majority have experienced some sort of injury before coming to Pilates, and ultimately incorporating it into their lives.
Because Pilates has become so renowned for promoting trunk stability it is increasingly being recommended by GPs, by surgeons, as a rehabilitative approach to people who have been injured.
The core is key. We see sportspeople, dancers, as well as regular people who have neither background – even sportspeople might not necessarily have a good core because if you have a given sport in which you train habitually you tend to build up certain muscles and overlook others; it creates an imbalance, and that makes you vulnerable to injury.
The first thing we do is make people aware of their alignment, and then to change the way they move – their biomechanics: it doesn’t matter if you’re sitting at a desk or swinging a golf club, acquiring this sort of understanding – of movement from your own perspective – has to be done by slow, careful, sensory work.
As with most things – prevention is better than cure, and regular practice will make people less vulnerable to injury in the first place. Really what we try to do – try to facilitate – is make people responsible for their own bodies.
With rehabilitation the aim is to restore normal everyday movement…whether that’s walking the dog; going to the gym, or playing sport at a given level. In more elderly people it’s about improving balance; enhancing their confidence and quality of life.
It’s always good to work with physiotherapists on the specifics of a given injury, to have that connection. Then, when that’s been established we can go beyond it and work holistically, determining in the process why an injury happened; what went wrong; what can be learned and ultimately preventing it from happening again.
Timing is crucial, if you begin Pilates too soon it can be detrimental: in the acute phase, when there is pain and inflammation, what’s needed is rest. Only once your practitioner has given the go ahead should a programme of rehabilitation begin.
Sometimes people come in and have an expectation that they will be ‘fixed.’ That’s not what Pilates is about – it’s about working together to understand what the body needs, with the teacher facilitating that process. It’s also about achieving dynamic stability and learning to move with ease, with freedom, towards a natural grace.
Everyone that walks into the studio is unique: their posture; alignment; age; life circumstances and other variables are particular only to them. That’s what makes teaching Pilates so interesting – it’s about working with the individual and ultimately finding ways for the body to heal itself.