Why Pilates Rehabilitation Is Widely Used By Physical Therapists

Today, Pilates rehabilitation is commonly seen in physical therapists offices.

The Pilates exercise routine is known for its ability to strengthen your body and improve your posture, flexibility and balance. In my Pilates studio, we see many clients who are coming off of injuries. The rehab Pilates we do with them compliments and enhances what they are practicing in rehab therapy.

Joseph Pilates, the creator of the now famous Pilates exercise routine, was a nurse in the German army during World War One. It was there that he developed a method of strengthening the muscles of the soldiers he was assigned to. He attached weighted springs to the soldiers beds and voila…the first Pilates equipment! These soldiers healed and recovered faster than the soldiers who did nothing. Rehab Pilates. Who knew?

To Joseph Pilates, rehabilitation meant getting creative with what you had.

Pilates rehabilitation works for many reasons. The great attention to detail and form is a perfect way for a client to gain strength in the weaker or injured muscles and joints. Pilates is gentle on the joints, so there is little worry of over stressing an already stressed body. Pilates also develops the smaller muscle groups that work to support joints and bony structures. And because Pilates builds a bodily awareness to balance, chronically weak and imbalanced muscles become equally strong.

Pilates as rehabilitation is also great preventative medicine. Keep yourself strong today and avoid injuries tomorrow. This is a great metaphor for people suffering from arthritis, osteoporosis or fibromyalgia, back and hip pain.

Pilates rehabilitation not only develops strength, but it increases flexibility in muscles and joints. This is a particularly important note for people suffering from arthritis. These clients need to keep their joints “oiled” up. They do that by using them. Use it or lose it! Keeping a full or near full range of motion in the joints is immensely important to all people, but to arthritis sufferers in particular.

It is important to note that most Pilates instructors are not trained nor qualified to make diagnosis or treatment plans for injured clients. Pilates instructors jobs are to work in conjunction with physical therapists, chiropractors, osteopaths, or anyone in the medical profession that is making a diagnosis on a client. Our job is to teach Pilates. Plain and simple. The Pilates method in itself is rehabilitative and therapeutic.

All clients whether they are young or old, professional athletes or weekend warriors, can benefit from a Pilates exercise routine. We all have weak links in our muscular skeletal makeup. Pilates rehabilitation programs or Pilates on it’s own is a great way to balance out our weaknesses and get us, and keep us, on our feet.


Bay Pilates and Wellness, LLC 

295 Bay Street, Easton, Maryland  410-924-0451 (contact number for owner)

Joseph Pilates 

Joseph Hubertus Pilates was born in 1880 near Düsseldorf, Germany. His father, a native of Greece, had been a prize-winning gymnast, while his German-born mother was a naturopath who believed in the principle of stimulating the body to heal itself without artificial drugs.

Small and sickly as a child, he was afflicted with asthma, rickets, and rheumatic fever, and was continually taunted by the bigger children. He quickly became determined to overcome his physical disadvantages. Thereupon young Joseph began to self-educate himself in anatomy, bodybuilding, wrestling, yoga, gymnastics, and martial arts. He soon achieved an almost Adonis-like "anatomical ideal," to the extent that at the age of 14 he was posing as a model for anatomy charts. He was also an accomplished boxer, skier, and diver.

He was enamored of the classical Greek ideal of a man who is balanced equally in body, mind, and spirit, and he came to believe that our modern lifestyle, bad posture, and inefficient breathing were the roots of poor health.

His answer to these problems was to design a unique series of vigorous physical exercises that help to correct muscular imbalances and improve posture, coordination, balance, strength, and flexibility, as well as to increase breathing capacity and organ function. He also invented a variety of machines, based on spring-resistance, that could be used to perform these exercises.

Pilates was interned in WWII. The health conditions in the internment camps were not great, and some of the injured German soldiers were too weak to get out of bed. Not content to leave his comrades lying idle, Pilates took springs from the beds and attached them to the headboards and footboards of the iron bed frames, turning them into equipment that provided a type of resistance exercise for his bedridden "patients."

These mechanized beds were the forerunners of the spring-based exercise machines, such as the Cadillac and the Universal Reformer, for which the Pilates method is known today. Pilates legend has it that during the great flu epidemic of 1918, not a single one of the soldiers under his care died. He credited his technique (which he called "Contrology")

At this point Pilates decided to emigrate to the United States. He met his future wife and dedicated teaching partner, Clara, on the boat to New York City. Together they opened the first Body Contrology Studio on Eighth Avenue at 56th Street in Manhattan, in the same building as a number of dance studios.