Utilizing Innovative Practices of Pilates and Yoga to Improve Posture, Balance, and Reduce Pain
Updated: Jan 18, 2022
At Restorative Therapy Co., we practice evidence-based, individualized, holistic physical therapy. We go beyond the typical physical therapy program and utilize innovative practices to get the best results for our patients. We wanted to share how therapeutic Pilates and yoga have helped many of our patients in treatment and ongoing wellness.
Pilates is a form of exercise that has been used in rehabilitation since the early 20th century. Dancers originally used the exercises, but Pilates has expanded to the entire population for injury rehabilitation, training, and other purposes.
Pilates has tremendous benefits and is suitable for everyone regardless of fitness level, age, and size. Core stability, strength, and flexibility are emphasized in Pilates exercise, as is control of movement, posture, and breathing. Studies have also shown that Pilates effectively increases the quality of life, relieves pain, and increases bone density.
At RTC, Ashley Scifres, DPT, and certified Pilates mat instructor uses her background in Pilates training to incorporate the benefits we see with these exercises while working with her patients. Does the patient already have postural changes? What is the degree of degeneration of the spine? What are their physical limitations? Do they have osteoporosis? We analyze these important details as we tailor each therapy program to meet our patient’s needs.
Postural modifications are necessary and used when an individual’s posture affects the normal position and can create challenges or pain if not corrected. We make every effort to correct posture challenges before initiating exercises. This approach reduces pain and re-educates the body about the “normal” new corrected alignment. We use props such as a yoga bolster, foam blocks, pillows, and towel rolls to help with postural deficits.
Core strengthening exercises assist with improper spinal alignment by addressing imbalances and uneven strains placed on the spine. This approach allows for more functional, safe movement with everyday tasks, reduces persistent back pain and decreases the chance of overuse injuries.
A Pilates approach to treatment helps with spinal alignment and low back pain and promotes healthy scapular biomechanics at the shoulder joint. As we know, the scapula plays a crucial part in optimal shoulder activity. Rotator cuff musculature does not work properly if the scapula is misaligned. Incorporating stabilization exercises with the Pilates method requires coordinated muscle recruitment to have proper alignment at the shoulder socket (glenoid fossa). A functional assessment by one of our therapists can reveal if we should include these areas in our patient’s program to promote more safe and meaningful movement.
The Pilates method and yoga exercise techniques can also improve nervous system function and balance systems. The practice of slow, controlled breathwork incorporated into our exercises stimulates the vagus nerve, lowering the heart rate, improving quality of sleep, improving digestion, and strengthening the immune system. We see this firsthand as many patients, including those with autoimmune disorders and chronic pain, benefit from this part of training. Positive changes using this approach enabled patients to return to a regular exercise program, increase their activity level in the community, and improve their quality of life.
Yoga and Pilates improve dynamic balance, decreasing the risk of falling. Proprioception, or body awareness, can become enhanced by implementing these exercises, allowing the body to respond to stimuli better and prevent injuries and falls. These exercises train the proprioception and visual systems and improve joint range of motion, significantly impacting functional mobility in everyday life.
Recently, we have expanded the offerings available to our clients in the Yoga and Pilates studios at RTC for patients of all ages and levels of experience. As patients are ready for discharge from the clinic, we aim to make it a seamless transition into a yoga or Pilates program so they may continue to take an active role in their recovery and wellness.
Angın E, Erden Z, Can F. The effects of clinical pilates exercises on bone mineral density, physical performance and quality of life of women with postmenopausal osteoporosis. J Back Musculoskelet Rehabil. 2015;28(4):849-58. doi: 10.3233/BMR-150604. PMID: 26406222.
Oksuz S, Unal E. The effect of the clinical pilates exercises on kinesiophobia and other symptoms related to osteoporosis: Randomised controlled trial. Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2017 Feb;26:68-72. doi: 10.1016/j.ctcp.2016.12.001. Epub 2016 Dec 8. PMID: 28107853.
Restorative Therapy Co. offers evidence-based, individualized physical therapy. Client appointments are always one-on-one with our physical therapists. Our team specializes in mindfulness, sports medicine, therapeutic yoga, geriatrics, balance and fall prevention, neurological movement disorders, dry needling, manual therapy, cupping, and more.
Refer Your Patients to RTC!
We work with patient referrals throughout Hampton Roads and look forward to partnering with you to care for your patients. Please feel free to reach out to me at any time at 757-578-2958.