Developed in the 1920s by Joseph Pilates, the popularity of pilates as a form of physical conditioning continues to soar because of its benefits to posture in treatment and rehabilitative strategies for conditions of the lower extremity.
A pilates programme involves a set of exercises that are designed to enhance core stability, flexibility, dynamic balance and posture. These exercises are often performed either in a standing or supine position while ensuring overall postural alignment.
There is also a strong emphasis on breathing and activating the central muscles of the body. Evidence states that pilates helps in stabilising core posture, which represents the centre of the functional kinetic chain.
It is important to remember that it is the core that plays a critical role in maintaining effective dynamic joint stability from the foot all through to the lumbar spine.
In order to evaluate the positive effect of pilates on posture, Atilgan et al. observed 98 Physical Therapy students who had enrolled in a clinical pilates programme at the Department of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation, School of Health Sciences at the Istanbul Medipol University in Turkey.
The authors observed the participants from the anterior, posterior and lateral perspectives for postural properness, and to record specified postural distortions.
The most commonly observed postural distortions in the students included rounded shoulders (27%), increased lordosis (21%), kyphosis (11%) and head titled forward (10%).
Flexibility levels were measured using both modified Schober’s test and finger-to-floor test which showed a statistically significant increase at the end of the pilates programme.
Students were also found to have a significant decrease in postural disparities – rounded shoulders (9%), anterior pelvic tilt (7%), kyphosis (6%) and anterior tilt of head (5%) – following the 14-week pilates programme, with an increase in postural awareness among the students at the end of the study.
In another study conducted by Barker et al., 18 individuals aged 60 and above were selected for a pilates programme that was designed to prevent falls and to assess the efficacy of such programmes for older adults.
The intervention participants engaged in 60-minute group sessions that were held twice weekly for 12 weeks. The exercises were tailor-made for each individual, and were predominantly performed in a standing position with less use of hands for support.
At the end of the study, lower limb strength was found to significantly improve in the pilates group as compared to the control group; the rate of fall injuries was 42 percent lower in the intervention group relative to the control group.
A key finding from this study was the potential for improvement in balance and strength achieved by people participating in the Pilates intervention, helping in the reduction of fall incidences in older individuals.
MASS4D® customised foot orthotics can be used in conjunction with exercises meant for improved postural balance to build strength in the muscles of the feet by calibrating the orthotic to accommodate specific musculoskeletal changes brought about by the ageing process.
These customised foot orthotics can be worn once the patient has finished their Pilates session, in order to protect the feet from the repeated stresses and trauma of everyday life. This type of protection will help increase functionality of the lower limbs, improve gait patterns and enhance mobility.
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Reference: Atilgan, E., Tarakci, D., Mutluay, F. (2017) Examining The Postural Awareness And Flexibility Changes In Physical Therapy Students Who Took Clinical Pilates Class. Pakistan Journal of Medical Sciences: May-June 2017, Vol. 33, No. 3, pp. 640-644
Barker, A. L., Bohensky, M, Talevski, J., Brand, C. (2015) Feasibility of Pilates exercise to decrease falls risk: A pilot randomized controlled trial in community-dwelling older people. Clinical Rehabilitation: September 2015, Vol. 30, No. 10, DOI: 10.1177/0269215515606197
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