Pilates is a system of exercise pioneered by
Joseph Pilates, who, in his lifetime, referred to his exercises as
"Contrology" to denote the concentration and control required to
complete them properly.
was born 1883 in
At age 29
Joseph moved to England to box, perform in a circus, and train English police
in unarmed combat.
In World War One he
was interned and acted as a Nurse and Physiotherapist for infirmed
He used bedsprings to
rig up exercise equipment so that bedridden internees could benefit from
After WW1 Joseph returned to Germany and trained the Hamburg military police
in unarmed combat until he was asked to train the new German army.
He declined and moved to New York City where
he trained boxers.
He was then
discovered by dancers, who valued his insight into injury rehabilitation and
His system of exercises was
influenced by several sources including Kong Fu (a Chinese martial art), Zen (
a Japanese Buddhist discipline), gymnastics, boxing, circus performing, and
body building as part of the early 20th century European 'kulture
physique' social movement.
developments in Pilates: Deep segmental stabilizing muscle retraining.
Australian physiotherapists have interwoven Pilates with a new paradigm in
physiotherapy, "deep segmental stabilizing muscle retraining", which
refers to each segment of the skeleton being held stable by small muscles.
The idea is that the position of
these small "stabilizing" muscles close to joints gives them the
ability to hold bones in their proper alignment.
In contrast large "mobilizing"
muscles further away from your joints move your bones around, but are poor
efficient movement with mininmal risk to joints, the body recruits the small
stabilizing muscles first so that larger mobilizing muscles can then move your
body from a stable frame.
pain, swelling, and not bearing weight for prolonged periods selectively
inhibit stabilizing muscles, but not (most) mobilizing muscles.
Furthermore, stabilizing muscles do not come
back to full function when the pain, swelling, or lack of bearing weight goes
Worse still their continued
inhibition increases the risk of further pain episodes.
research in the physiotherapy department at University of Queensland starting
in the 1990s that pioneered this research using real time ultrasound to view
muscle contraction in real time.
used this technology to diagnose poor stabilizing muscle function and to
They found out what it took
to recruit these small muscles, including what type of verbal cues worked.
research found that high load exercises, such as the abdominal exercises used in
traditional Pilates, were very poor at getting small
stabiling muscles to work and that much more subtle low load exercises
were required for their retraining.
The method only progresses to higher load once the deep segmental
stabilizing muscles have been successfully recruited. "Clinical Pilates", an
Australian Pilates school based in Melbourne was the first, that I know of, to
use real time ultrasound for the purpose of stabilizing muscle retraining and
to merge this new paradigm into Pilates.
Deep segmental stabilizing muscle retraining is part of every