Joseph Pilates said “Change happens through movement and movement heals.“ Many people recovering from an illness, injury, or surgery are still following the outdated idea of “resting” or avoiding movement at all costs and genuinely believe they are giving their body the best chance of recovery.
In 2020 this is, unfortunately, a misguided approach and numerous studies have been conducted that have shown the enormous benefit that movement contributes towards healing. There are of course some exceptions to this rule and movement should be avoided for conditions such as fractured bones and spinal cord injuries among others for example. As always you should seek advice from a medical practitioner before commencing a movement program to ensure that movement is appropriate for your condition.
What Is Movement?
Movement is essential for our wellbeing and our survival as a species. Once we have lost our ability to move through injury, for example, we become completely reliant on others for our very survival. Once we can’t walk we can’t obtain our own food, we need help with toileting and showering and we can’t run from danger. In early times humans obtained food through hunting and gathering and foraging in forests. The raw materials were then prepared for consumption which resulted in more physical activity. Many cultures had traditional dances that were performed for mourning, to prepare for war and for joy and celebration. Movement was part of daily life for these cultures but in our modern society during the technological age, we have removed as much movement as possible. Organic movement has largely been replaced by “exercise” in an effort to combat a sedentary lifestyle. The Pilates method incorporates many of the organic and functional movements that are essential for healing and maintaining our bodies.
How Does Movement Heal Exactly?
When we don’t move for an extended period of time due to an injury, for example, our muscles start to waste away or atrophy because our circulatory system can’t function efficiently as there is reduced blood flow to the area. Moving our bodies stimulates our circulation and promotes blood flow which drives oxygen to the injury site and removes waste products while at the same time encourages healing of the tissues. “Move It Or Lose It” really means exactly that but if you have “Lost It”, Pilates has been proven to be enormously beneficial for rehabilitating injuries to the back, knee and shoulder for example by strengthening the deep abdominal muscles, firstly from the inside or core and secondly by strengthening the outer muscles. As Pilates is a mind-body connection, it also assists in re-establishing the neural pathways from the brain to the muscles of the injured area which can weaken due to pain and lack of use.
Movement Aids Cancer Recovery
Pilates and other forms of movement and exercise are now more widely accepted as an important tool in aiding cancer patients at various stages throughout their treatment and is particularly helpful for breast cancer survivors. Shoulder movement can be compromised for women following a mastectomy and very small, gentle shoulder movements can be introduced as soon as possible after surgery and then gradually progressed. In the past, patients would have restricted the movement of their arms for an extended period of time but we now know maintaining the range of movement in the shoulder joints is essential for many reasons including the prevention of frozen shoulder and maintaining good postural alignment. Pilates is particularly useful for this as each woman’s experience will be different and the exercises are tailored to individual needs.
If you are looking for a solution for pain or injury that you are currently dealing with you can start Pilates now by taking the free 10 day trial, self cancel at any time, no contracts. If you are willing to take the time to learn these valuable movement tools, you too will experience the healing power of movement.