Pilates Is Famous For Sculpting Lean Bodies, but It’s Actually the Ultimate Injury Rehab


When you’re injured, recovering from a trauma, or experiencing any kind of pain, your workout is usually the first thing to take a back seat. In most cases, physical therapists and doctors will tell you to pause your running routine, skip Spin class, ditch the boot camps, and cool it with exercise — except Pilates. Andrea Speir, founder and master trainer at SPEIR Pilates, knows this firsthand.

“The aesthetic side of Pilates — wanting to look a certain way — came after its original base of rehabilitating people’s bodies. The base of it is all therapy.”


“I tore my meniscus,” Speir told POPSUGAR. “That’s how I got into Pilates in the first place!” The celebrity trainer has become a Pilates icon, but it wasn’t always her exercise of choice — she was a dancer and track and field athlete. In fact, it wasn’t until she was prescribed a Pilates regimen by her physical therapist — with a goal of getting back on stage — that she began to make it part of her routine. And as you may have gathered, that routine was transformational enough to change the course of her life.

And she’s not alone. More and more men and women are turning to this exercise not just as a way to lose weight and feel strong but as a full-blown rehabilitation program — oftentimes as ordered by a doctor or physical therapist. In fact, this workout can help you prevent injuries before they even happen . . . let’s get into how all of this works.


What to Keep in Mind When You’re Injured

So let’s say you’ve torn your ACL, herniated a disc, or just had shoulder surgery — don’t just jump into a group Pilates class! There’s a bit more to consider. Speir strongly recommends doing private sessions first. “If you’re doing private Pilates, you can do it with pretty much any injury,” she said, noting that this includes pregnancy — you’ll want special attention for prenatal Pilates. She said you can trust your instructor because “the anatomy side of [Pilates] training is humongous; usually the instructors got into teaching because they’ve had an injury themselves” and have realized the healing power of this exercise.

“If you’re doing private Pilates, you can do it with pretty much any injury.”


But with “one-on-one [training], you can do pretty much anything,” Speir said. “Pilates is going to be fantastic — especially for knee and back injuries.” Her only advisory for group classes would be to “make sure if it’s anything like a herniated disc or any stress injury, that the teacher is well-versed in whatever injury that is.”

How Can It Prevent Injuries If You’re Not Already Injured?

So you’re not injured, but you’re afraid of what could happen to your body through fitness — and from everyday life. Pilates is an incredible preventative practice, even if you’re not currently super active. “Many injuries occur because of an imbalance in the joints, connective tissues, or muscular system,” Royer said. So if you’re going about daily life but there’s something off in your alignment (fun fact: chances are you’re definitely off), then you’re super injury prone.

“As a preventative practice, Pilates gives us more bandwidth to absorb the inevitable knocks and bumps in life that could potentially by devastating,” Royer said. So that trip on a short ledge, that tumble on a lurching subway bus, or that missed step on the stairs? Your body will handle it so much better if you’ve been doing Pilates. “When we train the whole body and include appropriate motor control training via Pilates, we can react more quickly to the unexpected, giving us greater capacity for staying healthy, and the ability to recover more quickly if we do sustain an injury,” Royer said.

“[Pilates is] the perfect recovery and preventative tool.”


The mind-body connection is essential. Through the practice of Pilates, a patient becomes more in tune with their body and creates a better awareness that can eventually prevent injury. “Due to all the modifications I need [for my herniated discs], I’m still learning proper form, technique, and breathing,” said Lee, who has been doing Pilates for nine weeks now, as prescribed by her doctor and physical therapist. “But now I feel certain muscles (especially my core muscles) turning on or ‘firing’ that I haven’t felt before — nor knew existed!”

Instead, “we work on the connection between the mind and the body,” Grout said. “The idea is that by connecting your mind with your body, you can actually ‘turn on’ muscles that have been neglected or inhibited due to years of improper use and biomechanics. By retraining our faulty or imbalanced movement patterns during a Pilates class, we can begin to carry these new patterns into our daily lives, which means less pain, less risk of injury, and getting more out of every other activity we do, while possibly even growing a bit taller.”

Additionally, it’s one of the most low-impact, safest exercises you can do, “which makes Pilates accessible to everybody,” Grout said. “Pilates is designed as a low-impact activity so that not only are we taking pressure off of the joints, we are finding proper alignment (without the effect and pull of gravity) so that we can protect our joints in an even greater capacity, while training the body to move from this optimal alignment. This is a great time to decompress the spine and joints and move from a place that feels good. It’s the perfect recovery and preventative tool.”

If you’re looking for pilates in Hillsboro, Oregon, look no further than Balance Massage + Core Fitness Studio. We are a fully equipped massage and fitness practice located in downtown Hillsboro. Our core fitness studio features STOTT Pilates®, the gold standard in Pilates training, using specialized equipment. We offer 20 group fitness classes per week, including Zumba, Zenga, and Total Barre, as well as private instruction from our highly qualified team. Much of our massage practice is focused on injury recovery, relief from pain, and car accident and workers compensation rehabilitation. We also provide a variety of massage treatments purely for relaxation and rejuvenation.

Whether you enjoy the attention of one-on-one private training, or the excitement of a group fitness class, Balance Massage & Core Fitness Studio has the right training options to help you meet your fitness, physical therapy, and relaxation goals.

Balance Massage and Core Fitness Studio

233 SE Washington Street, Suite 103
Hillsboro, Oregon 97123

Phone: 503.352.9685
Email: info@balance-mf.com