Logo Orthopedic Rehabilitation Specialists
Bruce R. Wilk, P.T., O.C.S. Director
8720 N. Kendall Dr. Ste. 206
Miami, FL 33176
tel. 305.595.9425
 fax. 305.595.8492
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Pilates Based Rehab


With more fitness centers using “Pilates-based” instructors and the increasing number of rehab centers using the Pilates approach to injury management, more people are getting hurt and not resolving their problems because they don’t know what they are buying or trying when they purchase an exercise program under the Pilates name.

Pilates is a form of physical and mental conditioning that was started by Joseph H. Pilates in the early 1900’s. This method of reintroducing movement and exercise early after injury was embraced by the dance and entertainment community in the 30’s and 40’s. By the 1990’s it had gained popularity with the mainstream exercise community and began to gain ground in the rehabilitation setting.

German-born Pilates began teaching fellow detainees that exercise is good for us in a camp in England during WWI. Later, in the 1920’s he moved to New York City and began teaching exercises to dancers. Pilates was diligent in his teachings, but the name “Pilates” was not nationally recognized until long after his death. Thus, the problem. Pilates is based on one man’s work who died before the program was formally designed.

Joseph Pilates was not a formally educated man, and he had very little published work. Within his two publications, only 34 mat exercises are explained. However, what he did describe were 8 basic principles to guide his exercises: concentration, control, precision and coordination, isolation and integration, centering, flowing movement, breathing and routine. These principles are part of current theories of motor learning and biomechanics used by medical practitioners today and should be integrated into all competent physical therapy programs.

Pilates also used spring loaded tables and other equipment; however, associated exercises were never formally described or published. Furthermore, the Pilates name was never trademarked. Therefore, the name evolved into many different things by many different people, particularly when the Pilates boom began in the late 1980’s, long after Joseph Pilates had passed away.

So, today we have no clear standards for what Pilates actually is and specific exercises and techniques vary widely. The same is true for Pilate’s terms such as “core” and “powerhouse.” These terms have never been definitively linked to actual anatomical structures among medical professionals, and again, the definitions vary from person to person.

Although Pilates is not clearly defined, Joseph Pilates did bring valuable concepts to the world of exercise. As experts in exercise, we at Orthopedic Rehabilitation Specialists have integrated these concepts into our rehabilitation programs. We incorporate concentration, precision and coordination, alignment and breathing to integrate the body and mind. Special equipment is used to assist and facilitate proper movement while aiding in a safe recovery. Our individual approach can accelerate a patient's return to better health and fitness while minimizing harmful wear and tear on the joints and ligaments.

At Orthopedic Rehabilitation Specialists, we have the expertise to treat conditions such as lymphedema and low back pain. We also use Pilates concepts to help manage diseases such as arthritis, cancer, fibromyalgia and osteoporosis. It can improve sports injuries both before and after surgery and even enhance performance. Pilates-based exercises can be performed at variable difficulty levels, making it appropriate to use with people of all ages and sizes, and can be continued after your rehab program to maintain your fitness level.

Orthopedic Rehabilitation Specialists uses Pilates as an extremely versatile physical therapy modality. The different basic pieces of equipment; the reformer, trapeze table, and chair use springs and gravity to either assist the individual in completing movements successfully or give resistance to make the movement more challenging. Reintroducing controlled movement early in the rehabilitation process has been found to speed healing. Strength, flexibility, and symmetry of movement are all improved with this type of exercise.

Under the watchful eyes of Orthopedic Rehabilitation Specialist physical therapists, Pilates-based exercises are performed in a controlled environment to minimize weight bearing and destructive forces. Decreasing pain, improving balance, coordination, and increasing body awareness and alignment are some of the benefits of using Pilates in a rehab setting. Pilates also incorporates teaching proper breathing techniques to guide efficient movement and help manage stress. Controlled, precise movements help to minimize pain and improve self awareness and confidence. This can lead to improved body control, well being, and enhanced quality of life.

The benefits to using Pilates in a rehab setting compared to a fitness one is the involvement of the physical therapist. The Orthopedic Rehabilitation Specialist therapist delivers an individualized rehabilitation program with a set of exercises to meet each person’s specific needs. Physical therapists are able to modify each exercise to meet the demands of that person’s injury or ailment. Therapists are experts at identifying and retraining faulty movement patterns as a result of pain or injury. Postural re-education, muscle balancing exercises, and strength can be progressed more efficiently under the direction of a physical therapist using all types of exercise equipment.

The individual attention of a physical therapist can especially help people regain confidence in their body’s ability to move through the use of Pilates. Physical therapists deliver individualized rehabilitation programs with exercises to meet each person’s specific needs and should be your practitioner of choice for musculoskeletal injuries and pain.

To make sure that your Pilates experience is beneficial, and not harmful, consult a qualified physical therapist.