Pilates Reformer exercises can be used to gain optimal control between the lower and upper limbs whilst maintaining control over the pelvis and core. We frequently use the Reformer as an interim progression between 'floor exercises' and 'Swiss Ball exercises'.
Specific one-on-one exerices with the use of EMG biofeedback and Real-Time Abdominal US can be useful to encourage acurate cognitive processing of the individual components of the task. This is usually done in conjunction with 'hands on' treatment using "Muscle Energy techniques" to ensure symmetrical loading of the spine, hip and pelvis.
Mind and body fitness programs are gaining popularity with medical professionals for the rehabilitation benefits they offer patients who are in need of physical therapy. Physiotherapy practitioners often opt to take more of a holistic approach when addressing factors that may be causing a patient to have chronic pain. Treatment plans are generally devised to start with an exercise regimen before any other major procedures are performed.
Physiotherapy exercises are used as a means to strengthen one’s tendons as well as for the restoration of the patient’s flexibility in a specific area of the body. There are various exercise techniques and stretches designed for therapeutic benefits with Pilates and Yoga gaining lots of recognition for their somewhat choreographed movements that provide natural healing powers for those who have sustained an injury or who may be recovering from surgery.
Physiotherapists are using some elements of Pilates and Yoga exercises in a gym-style setting for people with injuries that are a direct result of how people may be overworking or misusing certain joints or muscles within their bodies. Pilates and Yoga can both be used to help a patient condition the brain to move muscles in a more appropriate and comfortable direction and to improve posture in functional activities including but not restricted to sitting and standing. (Ref 1) This type of physical training has additional benefits as well to help with the realignment of the spine for less overall strain on the back during normal everyday activities.
In essence, specific physiotherapy exercises and hands on techniques are designed to reduce muscle spasms, and hence compression, around a joint or spine. Pilates, Yoga, Alexander technique and modifications and/or combinations of all three are designed to activate the muscle groups which act as slings across the body. Similar to a person lying in a hammock, the bones lie in a bed of muscles. Some of these muscles are deep internal stabilisers whilst others are dynamic mobilisers working in synergy with one another in an oscillatory manner obeying Newtons Third Law of action-reaction.
The exercises performed in Pilates are somewhat similar to The Alexander Technique, which also focuses on the individual’s awareness of bodily tension. The ultimate intentions for practicing Pilates and The Alexander Technique is to bring the body and mind together in a way that enhances awareness and improves one’s general mental and physical health, much like Yoga. However, Pilates goes at a much quicker pace than yoga, offering more of a cardio workout and focusing on core strength rather than flexibility. The Alexander technique is particularly popular amongst the performing arts, with a strong emphasis on breathing, elongation through the superior axis of the spine, lightness of movement, as well as the integration of body awareness with sympathetic muscle tone. The movements for both Pilates and The Alexander Technique, focus on the diaphragm as well as conscious activation of the muscles that are located deep within the abdomen and around the spinal column to improve the lymphatic flow, myofascial tension, neural gliding, and circulation which in turn reduces pain caused by tension in the neck, upper and lower back.
Studies have shown that mind and body exercises have super healing powers for those who are seeking relief from back pain or help heal any other problematic area of the body. Yoga, Pilates, and The Alexander Technique are receiving accolades from around the world as a reliable treatment option for many physiotherapy patients.
The Feldenkrais Method is considered a gentler alternative and is most similar to Yoga. This method can also be labelled as a leading disciple within the mind and body category of naturally healing exercises. However, The Feldenkrais Method is not as ancient as the practice of Yoga, but both aspire to teach a form of sense and reaction awareness. Yoga instructors take pride in their practice of being able to focus predominantly on breathing, relaxation, and meditation. Yoga and The Feldenkrais Method are also considered therapeutic for a physiotherapy patient who may be experiencing an overload of stress that is causing pain in a specific muscle.
The Feldenkrais Method is like Yoga in ways that both programs offer new ways for one to learn how to cultivate (or retrain) joint and muscle movements. Depending upon the type of Yoga it involves holding various static poses with an emphasis on flexibility (Hatha or Iyengar) rather than strength (Ashtanga or Power Yoga). Yoga allows for one’s senses to become soothed and has also been known to ease arthritis and lower levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) after just one session.
Exercise treatments that are utilized by physiotherapists are likely to be led verbally through a sequence of movements inspired by any number of the programs mentioned above. People who are seeking to address areas of chronic pain or who are recovering from an injury or surgery are likely to notice a significant amount of relief without the need of any other unnecessary measures. Though all of the above exercises may vary in form, professional physiotherapists take careful precautions with how they may approach the specific needs of individual patients.
Further Options include Whole Body Vibration by Alfio Albasini and Martin Krause
The use of the Swiss Ball for assessment and treatment
Updated : 26 December 2016