Pilates For People with Mild Neurological Conditions
People with neurological conditions, such as Parkinson's Disease and Multiple Sclerosis, may be troubled with one or all of the following symptoms:
- Problems with co-ordination
- Poor balance, leading to falls
- Altered posture
- Altered breathing patterns
- Joint and muscle stiffness
- Increased stress levels caused by the challenges of living with your condition
How Pilates Can Help
Pilates is a low impact form of exercise which takes a balanced approach, ensuring that no muscle group is overworked. Unlike many other forms of exercise, Pilates focusses on the quality of movement rather than quantity. This makes many people feel invigorated, rather than tired after their Pilates session. As you will be initially assessed, all exercises will be adapted to your condition and ability.
By focussing on correct breathing, spinal and pelvic alignment, and concentrating on the smooth, flowing movement of your body, you become acutely aware of how your body feels, where it is in space, and how to control its movement. The "mindful" movements of Pilates focus the brain on the body's movement, helping to improve co-ordination.
Relaxation is achieved through a combination of the breathing technique involved in the exercises and the focussed manner in which the movements are performed.
The combined diaphragmatic and lateral breathing technique, which is central to Pilates, is great for helping to change habits of shallow breathing and improving this can help with energy levels as more oxygen is then circulating.
Through the Pilates exercises, muscles become more efficient in the way they work, encouraging normal movement patterns and reducing stiffness in both joints and muscles.
Balance can be improved by strengthening the core muscles and working them in lying, sitting or standing positions as appropriate. This balanced approach helps normalise posture.
Pain can be decreased by the combined effect of improved posture and reduced compensatory movements in daily activities.
A recent study has shown that stroke survivors have benefited from a pilot trial of physiotherapy-led Pilates classes improving their quality of life.
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