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Pilates Integrated Physical Therapy

By: Julia Smith, DPT, OCS

What is Pilates? Pilates uses body resisted exercises while using mindfulness to improve motor control and function in everyday movements. Joseph Pilates believed habitual patterns of movement led to imbalances in the body and could be a potential cause of many injuries. How does this relate to rehab? As a doctor of physical therapy board certified in orthopedics, I can say that habitual movement patterns and asymmetry has contributed to injury in the vast majority of my patients. On a personal level, I have coped with chronic neck pain for over 5 years and Pilates has eliminated (what was once) daily neck pain and headaches. It has changed my life and has left me with a desire to integrate Pilates based exercises into patient care. What is my experience? I have decided to pursue becoming a BASI Pilates certified instructor which involves accumulating 100 hours of continued education and 500 hours of practical time. I am currently halfway through the coursework and slowly adding teaching hours and observation hours to gain exposure and more experience with Pilates. In my rehab practice, I am utilizing Pilates based movements with the intention to strengthen the body as a whole and better allow individuals to return to sports or higher level activities.

What does utilizing Pilates in a rehab setting involve?

Our clinic has a reformer that has a pulley system allowing individuals to train muscles concentrically, eccentrically, and isometrically. I also utilize mat exercises, which require no equipment and give people the opportunity to practice independently at home.

Foot and ankle: There is a foot and ankle series that works on improving the body’s perception of where it is in space. The reformer also allows me the ability to better observe movement dysfunction and retrain with tactile cues. Shoulder: I use the reformer to help strengthen scapular stabilizing muscles which help promote good posture. It is also helpful at getting people back to lifting at the gym, as the reformer can provide heavier load to targeted muscle groups.


Neck and low back: I utilize many foundational exercises to improve flexibility to the neck and back. I also work to improve the strength and endurance to the core and trunk extensors. Regardless of where the pain is located along your spine, the spinal segments above or below the site of injury can influence your pain.


Restore PT & Wellness/ FYZICAL Ashburn

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