Is Pilates Suitable for Arthritis Sufferers?
(Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis).
Arthritis is simply the inflammation of a joint. With osteoarthritis the cause of this inflammation is mechanical (i.e. faulty movement patterns).
Friction around the joint causes irritation and sometimes a build up of bone.
Everyone's bone cells are temporary -- they are constantly being destroyed and renewed. These fresh new cells form in relationship to the stresses and influences in their environment. That is, bones can form or "deform" as a result of movement patterns in relationship to gravity. (It is interesting here to note that the bones of astronauts dissolve due to an absence of this relationship to gravity). This is why it is important to identify and modify any stress on a joint that is causing it to inflame. The unique method of machine based Pilates allows the body to move across gravity.
Spring Resistance Pilates
Using the spring resistance and the horizontal platforms, much of the force of gravity can be removed from joints and movement patterns can be modified and optimised. The equipment work also offers both open-chain and closed-chain exercises. In closed chain movements the body is fixed in a symmetrical framework and any asymmetries are addressed and corrected. In open-chain work at least one area of the body is free, therefore placing a higher demand on position (kinesthetic awareness) and movement in open space (proprioception). This is more demanding work but it is highly functional: preparing the body for a more harmonious relationship to gravity.
Rheumatoid Arthritis Pilates
Rheumatoid arthritis is an auto-immune condition. This is a chronic disease where the body internally creates the environment for joint inflammation. Resistance exercise has been shown to improve rheumatoid arthritis for some of the same reasons as osteoarthritis. More importantly however mindful exercise promotes the production of oxytocin, serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine and natural steroids in the body.
All of these reduce inflammation. They also play a role to help the body's ability to identify its own tissues as "self" and therefore not to send the message to create the inflammation to destroy its own joints.
Studio pilates provides a safe environment to support the arthritic body through resistance exercise. In our experience we have seen many clients find a reduction in their symptoms and enhanced ease in movement.