It is so exciting to see research backing up what Pilates teachers have observed for years. I have had the great fortune to see many people make positive change w. PILATES.
Why can Pilates help Older Adults with falls?
Pilates can work on all the elements important to walking. Having the legs strong is important. Pilates also trains in similar actions needed in gait.
For the legs:
Footwork on the reformer works on the phrasing of muscles to bend and straighten the legs. All of the joints of the legs need to be mobilized with the simple action of footwork. There is strengthening of the quadriceps, hamstrings and calves during this series.
Leg straps (modified short spine) and Leg springs take the legs through ranges of motion. Most important is freeing the hip socket at the same time strengthening. This is the beginning of taking the leg in hip extension. This builds the strength of the hamstrings to extend the leg back.
Side kicks and Side springs (my favorite) takes the leg through a full range of motion of hip flexion and extension.
Also the spine is important for the legs to move properly and balance. When the spine is compressed and not moving, the reflexes for balance are off.
Stand slumped and try to walk.
Do you feel how the hips and legs can’t move well.
Improving posture can free the hips to move in flexion and extension. A healthy walk has a supple spine. The spine should counterbalance the opposition of the legs. When someone has lost the mobility of their body, the risks of falls will be greater. It is like a building with the frame deteriorating.
When we are about to fall, a healthy spine will try to counteract the direction of the fall. The spine should move in opposition to counteract a fall forward. That means the spine has to be able to extend and/or rotate.
The legs with mobile hip sockets can adapt quickly to the potential fall. Your reflexes should instantly take you to a wider stance (wider foot base).
Pilates provides the groundwork of building good connections of alignment, strength and mobiliy of the entire body.