Pilates through the eyes of a Specialist Physiotherapist – part 2

Just 4 Reformer sessions have had hugely positive results for Ben, in addition to opening up his educational journey even further

Like many of you I was a little anxious about starting Reformer Pilates. I had previously been trained in Clinical Pilates but the reformer was a new piece of equipment to me.

My mind reverted back to the fact that throughout my career I had always been fearless when it came to embracing my weaknesses and identifying them to further my development as a physiotherapist, for example as a junior Physiotherapist on a musculoskeletal rotation in a NHS hospital some years ago, I found myself in a department where the Hand Specialist Physiotherapist was a legend in the NHS Trust and was both respected and revered by Colleagues and NHS executives alike.

She took no prisoners and often singled out senior or junior rotational physiotherapists on departmental in-service trainings for their obvious lack of understanding and knowledge of the hand. I therefore approached the situation the only way I knew how.

I introduced myself to the specialist hand physio on my first day of the rotation. I told her I had been thought very little but had tried to progress to the best of my ability by studying the anatomy of the hand in depth. She subsequently grilled me for 10 mins on my anatomy. I did ok she took me under her wing and two years later I had become one of her prodigies as the number two in the hand unit.

Therefore, I decided to do an equally stupid thing and ask the infamous John Fagan to show me the ropes in an hour long 1:1 reformer session.

Needless to say, I couldn’t walk for a day or two after the session but that was not because of my back pain it was due to a couple of factors.

Imbalances and weaknesses

Firstly, it is not unfair to compare John to my previous mentor as he is undoubtedly a demon when it comes to Pilates (attached is a pic after my first reformer session with John and its true he nearly killed me) and secondly because the Pilates session had identified my bodies numerous imbalances and weaknesses and had facilitated activation and movement in my postural muscles which had been overloading on a daily basis due to my increased periods in a seated position.

The simple truth is without an improvement in our proximal stability and postural awareness generic exercise is often not enough to prevent a reoccurrence of back pain.

From my point of view Reformer Pilates is undoubtedly the most beneficial form of rehabilitation that I have encountered since initially qualifying in sports rehabilitation in 2007.

I truly believe that the benefits of reformer Pilates can be essential for a variety of patient groups ranging from highly trained athletes to the average office worker who struggles to fit any exercise into their daily routine.

The underlying principles fit seamlessly with my own Physiotherapy beliefs.

While reformer Pilates delivers a highly functional and effective full-body workout, it is still based on the fundamental principles of Pilates, which are all about improving body awareness, proximal stability and control.

It’s also worth noting that the patients that have seen me who are regular’s in reformer pilates generally have better outcomes due to improved postural awareness, increased proximal stability and subsequently recover faster from the injuries they sustain!

Our circle of care has been developed to provide a seamless and continuous progression of treatment and most importantly functional movement patterns to allow our patients to get back on their feet empowering them to manage their injuries independently and effectively without the need for continuous physiotherapy intervention.

Personally, I am now 4 weeks in to my Pilates intervention and I truthfully haven’t had an episode of low back pain since my second class. Keep an eye on my blogs over the coming weeks and I shall keep you up to date on my progress.

Just like my introduction to hand therapy some years ago, I have jumped in the deep end once again and committed to beginning the Polestar Pilates course in September. The question once again is, am I being brave or silly. I guess only time will tell.