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What actually is Pilates?

Has anyone ever suggested that you try Pilates, however you really don’t know what Pilates is? If you don’t really know what it is, how could you know if Pilates will help you?

The newest member of the CHP team, Dr. Ciara Petry, is a certified Pilates Instructor and specializes in helping, in addition to being a physical therapist. She utilizes Pilates in her physical therapy practice and within her performance training services for her clients in Bethesda and Chevy Chase.  She even uses Pilates during her virtual physical therapy sessions! We are so grateful that she was kind enough to share this information with us.

Pilates is can be described as a conscious way back into our bodies, better connecting the mind and body. Pilates focuses on body alignment, controlled movement, and breathing. Joseph H. Pilates developed this movement system with the goal of improving the ability of the deep muscles of the body to guide and control movement.

Classic Pilates does not require any fancy equipment can be easily be performed on a mat. The focus of a typical session will be on quality of movement versus quantity (number of reps, amount of weight, etc.). Spinal movements, a properly engaged core, shoulder and pelvic stability, breathing, and working with oppositional energy are all key to Pilates work.

Contrary to popular belief, Pilates is very different from Yoga and it is important to understand these differences so that you can choose the right activity for you and your goals.

Yoga was founded as a sacred tradition over 5,000+ years ago with a focus on physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health. Yoga is a meditative practice, where Pilates is not, and follows a sequence of poses that are often held for long periods of time to increase short-term flexibility.

Pilates was founded in the 1920’s with a focus on strengthening of the core, improvement of posture, stabilization and elongation of the spine, and development of balance and overall strength. Movements are shorts with an increased focus on control, precision and long-term mobility.

For these reasons Pilates is incredibly useful for anyone suffering from back, knee, or hip pain. Furthermore, it serves as a great alternative or adjunct to weight training or running.

Next week will be discussing how you can use Pilates to help overcome injury and improve your performance in a variety of settings!

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