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    You are here : Home » About MS » Multiple Sclerosis Treatments » Complementary Therapies » Pilates


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    Pilates and Multiple SclerosisWhat is Pilates?

    Pilates is a type of exercise programme based on correct body alignment. The focus is on coordination, moving properly and 'core stability'. The method uses special equipment designed to work on specific muscle groups.

    Loved by stars such as Madonna, Elizabeth Hurley and Sarah Jessica Parker, it helps change your body shape into the long, leaned, toned look. Done assiduously, you can look younger, taller, and slimmer even without losing any weight.

    Called 'the thinking person's exercise', how you move is the key to producing results.

    Pilates is based on a set of 6 core principles:

    • Concentration
    • Control
    • Centring
    • Flow
    • Precision
    • Breath
    Among the many benefits, Pilates does the following:
    • Achieves balance in the body
    • Increases flexibility
    • Improves posture
    • Improves muscle tone
    • Increases stamina
    • Improves circulation and respiration
    • Increases bone density
    • Increases energy
    • Boosts the immune system
    • Increases well being
    • Reduces stress
    • Strengthens pelvic floor muscles
    • Flattens a flabby tummy

    Pilates and Multiple Sclerosis

    Suitable for everyone, Pilates is ideal for someone with MS as many of the exercises are done lying down and they are all non-impact and non-weight bearing. All the exercises are gentle enough to be done by someone weakened by MS. Although it does involving resistance against weights, this is never too high to cause strain or over-exertion. Muscles are never worked to the point of exhaustion.

    Pilates exercises can be started at any age and at any level of unfitness.

    The many benefits from doing Pilates can have a good effect on many MS symptoms.

    Who Was Pilates?

    Joseph Pilates was born in Germany in 1880. Naturally frail, he studied every kind of exercise which would build his body - boxing, skiing, gymnastics, fencing,  swimming, diving, callisthenics. By the time he was 14 his body was so well sculpted that he posed for anatomical drawings. His methods, which were radically different from other exercise pioneers, were based on the theory that instead of doing repetitive weightlifting to build up muscle, a holistic approach based on toning the body, correct posture and concentration on movements would produce better results.

    In 1912, he came to England but when World War One broke out he was interned in a prisoner of war camp on the Isle of Man with other Germans. While there, he started to develop exercise equipment to help the rehabilitation of injured people. He simply took springs from hospital beds to act as weight resistance so patients could begin their recovery while still flat on their backs.

    After the War, Pilates went back to Germany where he trained the Hamburg Police. Then he became the personal trainer of American boxer Max Schmelling, who set up a studio for Pilates in New York. This attracted big names like choreographer George Balanchine and actors Laurence Olivier and Katherine Hepburn. He worked with each new body as a fresh challenge, whether his client was a famous artist or someone recovering from a stroke.

    Over the years, he developed more equipment and mat exercises to make his programme even more effective. One piece of equipment is named the Cadillac after the American car - basically a bed with posts and springs.

    Further Information

  • Exercise and Physiotherapy
  • Pilates Helped Me

    © Multiple Sclerosis Resource Centre

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