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The Eight Pilates Principles: Why Pilates is a Great Continuum of Care for PT Patients

The Eight Pilates Principles: Why Pilates is a Great Continuum of Care for PT Patients

Each semester RedBird gets the great honor of presenting students in the Texas State Physical Therapy doctoral program with a course in Pilates as a tool for neuromuscular re-education, enhanced movement strategies, improved athletic performance and injury prevention.

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This year we focused on how the eight founding Pilates principles create a unique relationship between physical therapy and Pilates, as well as how Pilates has evolved to:

  • become a preventative practice that corrects postural and alignment issues for better quality of movement
  • provide a pre-hab system to strengthen patients prior to surgical intervention
  • provide a continuum of care following PT for rehabilitation
  • be a viable athletic cross-training system for injury prevention and improved athletic performance

These eight Pilates Principles are:

Concentration, which fosters awareness of the entire body while performing movement, is required to neutralize undesired movement patterns and is an essential element in connecting mind and body. Increasing concentration during movement, not only on primary movers, but on stabilizers and postural muscles as well, promotes improved movement skill, athletic performance and longevity of movement abilities.

• Control, which emphasizes quality over quantity. Clients who complete physical therapy without learning movement technique are likely to experience the same injury again, or new injuries, as a result of the compensatory patterns developed during injury. Pilates is an excellent post-therapy continuum of care to equip clients with a new movement vocabulary–and movement control–to avoid these expensive and discouraging problems.
Centering, the idea that all movement originates from the center (powerhouse) of the body and moves outward through the extremities. Centering results in coordinated controlled movement, improved posture, and a leaner, longer torso. It also helps clients learn to mindfully recruit vital stability and postural muscles, such as the multifidus, transversus abdominis and pelvic floor.
Whole Body Movement,  the principle that distinguishes Pilates from other disciplines, bringing the focus much more to stabilizers and synergists as opposed to gross movers. The result is uniformly developed muscles that are necessary for posture, suppleness and graceful movement.
Rhythm/Flow, which allows Pilates to range from fundamental, education-based movement to rigorous athletic conditioning as clients progress, challenging participants to ingrain new movement skills into rhythmic, fluid and complex movements.
Breath, which is, as in all great practices, where the work starts, flows from, and ends. Breath is an integral part of overall body functioning. Pilates lateral breath helps to  increase VO2 max, improves the circulatory system and, most importantly, facilitates controlled movement and mind-body connection.

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Precision, which results in appropriate muscle innervation, requires continued repetition and practice to help ingrain new movement patterns on a subconscious level, and enhances articulate and purposeful coordinated movement.


Balanced Muscle Development, which prevents over- and under-use of muscle groups, minimizing injury. It enhances proper postural alignment and encourages efficient movement and proper joint mechanics by developing balanced relationships between agonist and antagonist muscle groups.