Is Pilates Good for Arthritis?

Pilates is a low-impact form of physical exercise that focuses primarily on controlled movements and stretching. It was invented by Joseph Pilates – hence the name! This method is meant to strengthen your inner core and bring balance to the body. When practiced frequently and consistently, Pilates will increase flexibility, boost endurance and elevate concentration – leading to a healthier and happier lifestyle. You can perform this exercise on your own or within a class led by professional instructors; with the latter best suited to those who are new to the art.

You can practice this alone on a mat or with pieces of equipment, such as a fitness ball, trapeze table and foam rollers. The wonderful thing about Pilates is that it can be performed at a number of levels and within numerous different systems, suited to an individual’s limitations. But, is Pilates good for arthritis?

is pilates good for arthritis

Living with Arthritis

Arthritis is a complex condition that affects millions of people across the planet. There are over 100 different forms, affecting people of all ages and backgrounds. The term ‘arthritis’ is not a disease in itself, but more a category of conditions that refer to joint pain and/or joint disease. Common symptoms and problems may include:

  • Dull and aching pain
  • Inflammation of the joints
  • Stiffness in the joints
  • Reduced range of movement in the joints

These symptoms can come and go with no real pattern, ranging from mild to severe. Serious sufferers of the condition can experience chronic levels of pain, creating an inability to perform daily activities, or in some cases, an inability to walk. Permanent joint changes caused by arthritis may be visible on the surface or discoverable via X-ray. Treatments are available to help with the discomfort, but unfortunately there is no complete cure.

How Does Pilates Help the Effect of Arthritis?

One of the best-known remedies for this condition is light exercise. Doesn’t seem to make sense does it, moving around to cure a condition that causes pain when you move around? But in fact, exercise is perhaps the most effective methods of combatting the symptoms of arthritis. Proper physical activity helps to maintain flexibility and muscle strength through bodily movements and training.

One such exercise that shows great capacity in relieving symptoms of the condition is Pilates. All exercises within this discipline are non-strenuous and offer tremendous health benefits. By strengthening and lengthening the major muscles within your body, you can improve your overall power, balance and flexibility. Enhancing your muscle tone and strengthening your abdomen, hips and lower back takes the strain away from important joints and alleviates any unnecessary pressure. Spine stabilisation, muscle control, body awareness and co-ordination are all improved ten-fold – removing excessive weight or wear-and-tear from certain joints and problem areas. This is the perfect way to rehabilitate patients from muscle, joint or spinal problems – especially arthritis.

A Quick Lesson in Pilates

Quality beats quantity when it comes to Pilates, so repetition of your movements is not as important as performing them correctly. Precision is key here, along with focus and concentration. The stretching and lengthening of your muscles must happen slowly, with the correct rhythm and breathing pattern. Your aim is not to exhaust yourself, but to perfect the movements. This exercise has six basic principles:

  • Centring yourself
  • Self-control
  • Flow
  • Breathing
  • Precision
  • Concentration

Follow these simple principles and you will get the most out of your Pilates regime. Over time you should notice your symptoms of arthritis beginning to fade and improve.

If you’re in the Leeds area, and are interested in joining a Pilates class to learn more and help you get more from your exercise, please visit our Pilates Leeds page where you can see timetables for our latest classes.

Also, be sure to check out our Facebook page where we’ll be posting some more photos and videos from our Pilates classes!