Pilates (puh-lah-teez) is a combination of stretching and strengthening exercises that emphasize posture, symmetry and abdominal muscle control. The exercises are designed to create an awareness of the deep torso muscles to allow you to correct musculoskeletal imbalances. All movements are done with control and coordinated with your breathing pattern to provide maximum results with minimal repetition. People of all ages and physical conditions can benefit from Pilates. It is an effective tool for injury prevention and rehabilitation as well as enhancing performance in other sports. Pilates is an excellent workout producing longer, leaner muscles and improving balance coordination and circulation.
At Kamloops Physiotherapy, Karen Niedbala provides individual mat and reformer pilates sessions using the STOTT Pilates method. This method was developed by former professional dancer Moira Merrithew, with input from sports medicine professionals. STOTT Pilates is a contemporary, anatomically-based approach to Joseph Pilates' original exercise method. The exercises safely deliver optimal strength, flexibility and endurance, without adding bulk. This stress-relieving method can be performed on mat or using special equipment (reformer).
Unlike the original series of exercises, STOTT Pilates incorporates modern exercise principles, including contemporary thinking about spinal rehabilitation and performance enhancement. For example, unlike the original approach, which promotes flat back, STOTT exercises are designed to restore the natural curves of the spine and rebalance the muscles around the joints. They also place more emphasis on scapular stabilization. As well, there are more prepatory exercises and modifications to make the method safer and more effective.
There are some basic differences between mat and reformer pilates. Mat-based workouts are very convenient and they can be done anywhere. However, a mat workout will provide no added resistance. A reformer workout will add resistance to your routine and can correct muscular imbalances better than a mat routine would. As well, a reformer workout may be more effective in strengthening and increasing the flexibility in your arms, legs, hips and shoulders. In the earlier stages of rehab the mat exercises are often most appropriate, but as you progress you may find more benefit from the reformer.