Pilates - does it work?


Pilates was developed by the late Joseph Pilates, born in Germany in 1880. During his younger years he trained as a boxer, circus performer and also even trained detectives in self-defence.

His initial interest in developing exercise regimes sparked from his time working in a hospital as an orderly on the Isle of Man. He began using hospital bed springs to add resistance to exercises he developed for those wounded in WWI and soon discovered that this was resulting in improved recovery and healing. Seeing these benefits, he further developed his regime within the dancing community where he went on to open the first ever Pilates Studio in New York in the 1960’s where he trained the young ballerinas from the New York Ballet School. The original classically taught regime of ‘Traditional Pilates’ exercises is a true reflection of his diverse background.

Pilates has over the years dipped in and out of fashion depending on fitness trends but has always remained one of the staples in the fitness industry. It’s core principles are unique with a focus on strengthening the deep ‘corset of muscles’ that provide support and control to the spine. Pilates has become acknowledged among the general medical community as a safe and effective form of exercise that has been shown to relieve and prevent the reoccurrence of symptoms associated with cervicogenic headaches and associated neck pain, pelvic pain, as well as low back pain.

Considering that back pain has been ranked as one of the leading causes of disability in the world it is unsurprising that a growing number of medical professionals refer to those trained to teach Pilates in an effort to reduce the incidence of disability.

Pilates has even been shown to produce reductions in pain and disability, equal to surgery, in those with chronic back pain. This is an important consideration for those suffering with back pain and would like to explore conservative treatment options before opting for surgery. It is known that for the majority of individuals who suffer from an initial episode of back pain there is an excellent prognosis and most will make a full recovery within 2-4 weeks. However, there is often a high incidence of reoccurrence (>60%).

 Christina O'Connor, Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist & Pilates Instructor, Strive Clinic Galway

Christina O'Connor, Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist & Pilates Instructor, Strive Clinic Galway

It has been shown that the addition of specific stabilising exercises such as Pilates for as little as 4 weeks following an acute episode of back pain, compared to solely advice and use of medications, resulted in half the number of recurrent episodes of back pain.
— Christina O'Connor, Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist & Pilates Instructor, Strive Clinic Galway

Physiotherapists have increasingly developed their skills in the prescription of Pilates exercises given the mounting supportive evidence. With their indepth assessment skills and anatomical knowledge they are uniquely placed to deliver such exercises in the field of rehabilitation for those at higher risk of injury or with complex medical backgrounds.

If attending a Pilates class it is wise to ensure the instructor has the appropriate qualifications and if attending a class for the first time it is very often helpful to seek an initial 1-to-1 physiotherapy assessment to ensure you get the most out of attending a class. If you would like a 1-to-1 with either Stephen McNally in Killybegs, or Christina O'Connor in Galway - both Musculoskeletal Physiotherapists and Pilates Instructors - you can contact reception to make an appointment.

Pilates classes will begin in Strive Clinic Galway and Killybegs in January 2018. Check out the links below for details of class times.