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Achieving Your Peak Performance with Pilates and Physical Therapy

“What exactly is Pilates?”, “Do you think Pilates could help me with my pain?”, “Is Pilates a safe workout for my low back?”, “Could Pilates help strengthen my abdominals Postpartum?”.

These questions have been asked of me numerous times throughout my years as a Physical Therapist. Many people have heard of Pilates, but might not have personal experience with it or understand what the method of exercise involves and what its benefits may be. I chose to pursue continued education classes specializing in Pilates for Rehabilitation because I had seen positive benefits in my own body with Pilates classes while recovering from a neck injury. I knew from my own experience that this exercise helped me improve my posture and strength and I wanted to learn more about how this could be utilized clinically to help my clients achieve their goals.


Pilates is a mode of exercise that was first developed by Joseph Pilates in the 1920’s. His exercise method was initially called “Contrology” as he developed a system that was intended to strengthen both the human body and the mind. This exercise system had roots in rehabilitation and medicine from the very beginning as Pilates used this method to improve his own health while he suffered from asthma and other ailments as a child. He then further developed it during World War One to work with his fellow internees while he was being held at an internment camp. He attached springs to hospital beds to help provide resistance for strengthening while patients were recovering from diseased and physical injuries. This idea later inspired the design of Pilates exercise equipment such as the Reformer.


Individuals are often hesitant to try Pilates, wondering if they need to be a dance, gymnast or have a certain level of fitness to participate. However, one of the many advantages of Pilates is that it is a low-impact exercise system.

Pilates is used to address posture, flexibility, strength, breathing patterns, and overall mind body awareness. Pilates is particularly helpful in retraining our body to use the deep core and stability muscles that may help prevent injury.

Pilates focuses on “movement control”, teaching precise movements and muscle activations through exercise that allow for improved quality of movement. This improved movement quality may lead to less pain and improved efficiency for activities of daily living such as sitting, standing, squatting, walking, bending, and lifting.


· Low back pain including sprains, strains, arthritis/degenerative changes, and disc or nerve involvement

· Neck pain including whiplash, strain, tension headaches, arthritis/degenerative changes, and disc or nerve involvement

· Postural Conditions including kyphosis, scoliosis, and workplace/ergonomic related pain

· Most orthopedic and sports injuries involving the shoulder, hip, knee, foot and ankle.

· Women’s Health and Postpartum conditions including diastasis recti, pelvic floor and abdominal weakness, and sacroiliac joint dysfunction.


· Physical Therapy Services with Pilates-based rehabilitation: If you are being seen in physical therapy for treatment of a medical condition or acute injury, you may benefit from including Pilates-based exercises into your treatment plan. Physical Therapy sessions are one-on-one with a Doctor of Physical Therapy.

· Pilates Sessions: These are fitness and wellness-based services that are designed to help individuals achieve goals related to movement and performance. These sessions are also one-on-one with a Doctor of Physical Therapy who will create and lead clients in a comprehensive exercise program to address their needs related to strength, flexibility, and balance. Specialized equipment may be used including the Pilates Reformer.

Contact Mission Peak Physical Therapy to learn more about Pilates, Physical Therapy, and what services might be beneficial for achieving your goals!

Article written by Mallory Berschauer, PT, DPT and Owner of Mission Peak Physical Therapy

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