Pilates & Osteopathy

Originally called ‘controllogy’, Pilates is about control and my aim, as a Pilates instructor, is to enable my clients to have a better understanding of their bodies. Through personally tailored exercise, I help clients to achieve their goals and generally improve their lifestyles. Pilates and Osteopathy are often combined to achieve maximum benefits, so read on for more information.


About Pilates and the Benefits

Pilates is a form of exercise that can be both gentle but also quite energetic.  Overall, it focuses on building a more balanced posture through core stability. Unlike some forms of exercise, Pilates emphasises quality over quantity and can show that exercise needn’t be high impact to deliver effective results.  Because of this, Pilates can be practiced at any time of life from ages 7 to 97, and it’s never too late to start.

Core stability is about the torso and the deep abdominal muscles engaging and being the power behind every movement we make, such as standing, walking, running, twisting, playing sport, and so on.  We all rely so much on the larger global muscles in our legs, arms and shoulders to do the work, however the true power house is in the core.

Pilates came about in the early 1900s through Joseph Pilates.  During WW1 he became an internee and during this time refined his ideas and trained other internees in his system of exercise.  He took springs from the beds, enabling bedridden patients to exercise against resistance, which later developed into the machines we use today – Cadillac, Reformer, Wunda Chair, etc. Pilates was also very much associated with the dance world in the early days, primarily because when Joseph moved to the USA he shared a studio with the New York City Ballet, but today it is practiced by sports personalities, dancers, singers, and other performers worldwide along with your average person in the street.  Potential Benefits can include:

  • Mind body workout
  • Long lean muscles and flexibility
  • Core strength
  • Body awareness
  • Breathing
  • Rehabilitation
  • Correct posture

Why do osteopaths recommend Pilates?

Osteopaths will often recommend that patients take up Pilates and overall I have found that I have a very good success rate working with them and their patients. An osteopath will diagnose and treat their patient and, if required, see them at regular intervals thereafter.  Many osteopaths, having an in-depth understanding of body function and biomechanics, realise the importance of having properly developed core stabilising mechanisms, flexibility and co-ordination. Therefore, many will recommend Pilates as part of their patients care programme. A patient’s rehabilitation needs to be maintained through appropriate exercise and the correct muscle development to stabilize and reduce the risk of further injury as a result of incorrect movement.  Many problems can occur from poor posture and it is interesting to see how little awareness most of us have about how our bodies function. One of the most important lessons that Pilates can teach is to have increased awareness of one’s own body.


How do osteopathy and Pilates complement each other?

As a Pilates instructor my role is not to diagnose a problem but to work in partnership with an osteopath so that together we can understand from each other what exercises will be of benefit to the patient. By working on the Pilates machines it is often clear if one side of the body or a particular muscle isn’t working correctly.  This may not be from where the problem stems but could be a cause for something else going on within the mechanics of the body.  A skilled Pilates practitioner will see the body working in ways that would not necessarily show up with a patient standing or even walking.


When would your Pilates instructor recommend osteopathy?

I will recommend an existing client to an osteopath if a problem had developed over time and didn’t seem to be getting any better.  For me it is important to have a confirmed diagnosis to know exactly what is going on. And likewise if a new client comes to me, has had an ongoing issue with their body but had never sought assistance, I would always recommend osteopathy.

Thank you to Kirsten Harle, Pilates Instructor of The Pilates Suite for this guest blog. For more information on how Pilates & osteopathy can help you call Kirsten on tel: 07973 662793 email: Kirsten@thepilatessuite.co.uk, or the team at Teddington Osteopaths on tel: 0208 977 3295 email: enquiries@teddingtonosteopaths.co.uk.

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