These 3 mini routines on the Reformer will help you recover from an aching back, shoulder or knee.
Workout by Samantha Wood
We all know that one of the many benefits of Pilates is that it helps to prevent injuries. But what if you already have an injury? We called on Samantha Wood, a physical therapist who specializes in Pilates-based rehabilitation, to come to the rescue!
“I have witnessed both firsthand—from the college athlete with an ACL replacement to the 93-year-old woman with osteoporosis—and through research that Pilates, when used appropriately, can be a highly effective tool for therapeutic purposes,” says Wood. “Pilates exercises and principles can help people recover from injuries and surgery, as well as optimize function in those suffering from chronic conditions.”
The following mini Reformer routines address three of the more common injuries that Wood treats on a regular basis: shoulder impingement syndrome (inflammation of the rotator cuff muscles), patellofemoral pain syndrome (a.k.a. “Runner’s Knee”) and chronic lower-back pain (due to disc pathology).
“The goal of these routines is to strengthen the injured region of the body, without exacerbating your—or your client’s—condition,” explains Wood. “In general, these exercises, when done correctly, are safe and effective; but remember that every body is different. If you feel pain or discomfort, discontinue practicing and consult with your physician or physical therapist.”
For best results, do these exercises 2 to 3 times per week. You’ll be feeling stronger before you know it.
Courtesy of BASI Pilates® Mentor Program
spring setting: ¼ to 1
purpose: strengthens the scapular stabilizing muscles in a pain-free range; teaches isolation of the rhomboids; promotes proper posture; challenges the rotator cuff muscles
setup: Sit on the Reformer carriage with your legs threaded through the shoulder rests, ankles crossed. Hold onto the handles, palms facing down and arms extended at shoulder height. Engage your abs, lengthen your spine and draw your shoulder blades down your back.
1. Exhale as you pull your arms back, bending your elbows at a 90 degree angle at shoulder height. Inhale and hold.
2. Exhale and squeeze your shoulder blades together without moving your arms. Inhale and hold.
3. Exhale as you return to the starting position. Do 8–10 repetitions.
tips: Make sure your elbows remain at shoulder height throughout the movement. Keep your wrists in neutral.
advanced: While keeping your shoulder blades squeezed together in the ending position, externally rotate your shoulders to bring your forearms to a “goal post” position (arms at a 90 degree angle toward the ceiling). Rotate your shoulders back to the starting position, releasing the squeeze of your shoulder blades. (Note: Only do this version if you have excellent scapular stabilization strength and no pain.)
Pick up the July/August issue of Pilates Style today for the whole story and exercise routine!
Photography by Rod Foster; Hair by Katie Vollmer, makeup by Heather Puhek; Top by Prana, bottoms by Lululemon Athletica.