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Pilates to Protect…
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Pilates to Protect Your Spine

November 16, 2019
Woman practicing Pilates exercise.

Pilates is a mind-body, low-impact exercise program that focuses on maintaining the neutral alignment of the spine, abdominal and back strengthening, flexibility, and breathing patterns to help to relieve and prevent back pain. Many healthcare professionals recommend Pilates. Please discuss with your DOC physical therapist whether this form of exercise is right for you.


Kaitlyn Rios, Doctor of Physical Therapy, at Southlake DOC, explains her professional approach to Pilates: “I took a Pilates certification continuing education course early on in my professional career as a physical therapist. I was amazed at the level of control and the amount of stability required to perform Pilates exercises properly. I gained a new appreciation for this approach to health and fitness and often encourage my guests to pursue this sport after a stint of skilled physical therapy, especially for those who have experienced low back pain. It is a great form of exercise for anyone who wants to improve their core stabilization and full-body strength in a low-impact way.”


Pilates is named after Joseph Pilates, who was born in Germany in 1880. Joseph was an unhealthy child, which stimulated his interest in physical fitness. As a nurse in a war camp in Germany during WWI, he worked with wounded soldiers to help them recover with physical training. During this time Joseph began to develop the exercises and equipment now known as “Pilates.” In 1926, he immigrated to the United States and opened a studio in New York City offering clients his special form of fitness training. Joseph Pilates described his method as one that “makes us responsible and in control of our own bodies and health.”


Initially, Pilates was primarily practiced by professional dancers to improve strength, balance and flexibility. In the 1980s, Pilates become a popular form of exercise for the general exercising public.


Pilates is a total body exercise program. The basic principles include:

  • Concentration. Pilates requires mental focus to perform each exercise correctly, safely and effectively.  
  • Control. Pilates movements are performed with efficient, orderly, purposeful movement, and muscle control.
  • Breathing. Specific and controlled breathing patterns help to engage the muscles that support the spine.
  • Centering. During Pilates, participants are made aware of neutral spine alignment and proper posture throughout the exercises.
  • Precision. Each exercise should be executed with deliberate movement to develop the muscles of the back and abdomen to support good posture and spine health.
  • Fluidity. The exercises create length, strength, and flexibility in muscles.


All of the body parts need to move together to perform the exercises correctly: mindfulness, breathing, head/neck placement, spinal alignment and stabilization, shoulder placement, and coordination of arms and legs. Practicing Pilates may be the exercise program for you to achieve an integrated mind-body workout.

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