As a physical therapist, I am constantly on the look out for different ways to help treat my patients, whether it’s a new holistic therapy or a tried and true classic. I’ve found that no one approach can cover everything. But one of the best and most constantly helpful physical treatments I use is Pilates.
You’ve probably heard that word “Pilates” before- so what the heck is it? Well, Pilates was invented in the early 20th century by a German gymnast and body builder named Joseph Pilates (appropriate, no?), based on his close study of a variety of exercise types including Qigong, yoga and gymnastics. After he moved to the US, Pilates, the man and the movement, quickly gained a following, especially amongst dancers like Martha Graham, who appreciated his focus on core muscles, breathing and strengthening using the body’s own anatomy (in some cases via straps and pulleys.) Today, Pilates is flourishing as a low impact form of strength training and as an alternative to yoga, which it closely resembles.
(Above: Karena instructing a patient, click to enlarge)
I use Pilates with many of my clients. I find that it helps improve posture, strengthens the body, and helps with a decrease in joint and back pain. At its core, Pilates is all about alignment, flexibility, using your muscles correctly and to their full capacity, and remembering to breathe! (It’s so funny how often people forget this most basic step!) It can be a very gentle way to rehab a particular muscle or tendon and alternately it can be a rigorous workout. I love how this flexible exercise is all about, well, flexibility!
Here’s some more info on Pilates, for your reading pleasure!
A very cute Pilates blog via Rhinebeck Pilates
An insightful article about the health benefits of Pilates from WebMD
A do-at-home workout via Health Magazine
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Best Physical Therapist NYC
Karena Wu, PT, MS
ActiveCare Physical Therapy
12 W 37th Street
New York, NY 10018