Over the past few years, Pilates has grown in popularity as more people are gaining awareness of its rehabilitative effects. Doctors and physical therapists are recommending Pilates to clients with foot, knee, shoulder, neck, back pain and more. In fact, physical therapists are utilizing Pilates equipment and exercises into their practice and many are also trained as Pilates instructors.
The relationship between Pilates and physical therapy has become a topic of great interest. This is not to say that the two are one and the same thing or that they are interchangeable but that they are mutually beneficial for clients, therapists and even instructors.
To get a clear understanding of the different roles of physical therapists and Pilates instructors, it is important to outline how the two differently approach rehabilitation. Note that Pilates is a method of fitness that can also be used for physical therapy to maximize benefits to the body and also reduce healing time.
An important distinction between traditional physical therapy and Pilates is that traditional medical professionals are going to address pain and pathologies. On the other hand a Pilates teacher is not looking at pathology. A Pilates teacher is keener on overall alignment, mobility and articulation, control as well as balance and fluidity.
Pilates based physical therapy (PBPT) is an approach to healing grounded in the moving body. Assessment and treatment is meant for the whole body and not just an injury or symptom. This is made possible through Pilates exercises and traditional physical therapy methods.
PBPT encourages one to take an active role in recovery. It often involves learning and engaging in new ways of moving, listening and taking care of yourself. By learning how to listen to your body, you can also avoid future injuries. Therefore, it provides post-rehabilitations or wellness education. However, it has its roots in rehabilitation. In fact, plenty of physical therapists are utilizing Pilates and incorporate its holistic philosophy into their practice.
Sometimes, there are certain structural problems that need surgery, manipulation or some kind of structural fix. Therefore, Pilates and physical therapy can be viewed in terms of a healing strategy that begins with overall movement patterns and compensations, which is the basis of Pilates. If that doesn’t work, clearly there is a structural issue and the client needs to move into physical therapy. After physical therapy, Pilates can provide cost-effective post-rehab benefits.
Client needs are used as the basis for dialogue between Pilate instructors and physical therapists. The two experts as well as other professionals such as doctors and chiropractors work together to deliver the best care to the client. Communication between these parties is therefore very important.
As the practices of Pilate instructors and physical therapists are mutually beneficial, it is evident that the relationship between professionals in these fields is strengthening. This is one of the main reasons why the two are encouraged to enhance their work, gain more confidence about referrals and be more informed on behalf of their clients by observing as well as experiencing each other’s work.