Q. I have bad knees. Can Pilates help to strengthen them?
A. There are many things that can lead to “bad knees”: injury, arthritis, infection, degeneration and (rarely) tumors. Sometimes, misalignments of the joints above and below the knee are to blame, as well as years of overuse and abuse. But all is not lost. After getting the green light from your physician, seek out a knowledgeable and experienced Pilates instructor who can customize a workout specific to your needs. Movements done on the Pilates equipment can be a great way to not only assess an injury, but to treat it as well. During the assessment, the instructor will monitor your movements on and off the equipment to have a better understanding of how your joint moves, as well as what the preference for the movement may be. For treatment, the instructor will select the appropriate exercises, focusing on the way the joint moves and responds to the work. Some beneficial exercises are the footwork series on the reformer, in which you would be lying supine (on your back) with feet on a specialized bar. This gentle (albeit, effective) workout will help with re-establishing muscle activation. Another great exercise would be the essential level single leg series; this sequence of exercises activates the quadriceps muscles and focuses on tracking the patella properly. Both exercises help increase safe, gentle range of motion and strengthening of the muscles surrounding the joint. As you progress in strength, stability, and control, the exercises can become more challenging by alternating the weight of the springs. Of course, everything depends on the severity of the injury; is the injury new or old? Has it been surgically repaired? Are there additional compensations that have resulted over time that need to be addressed as well? All of these factors determine how long a person will take to restore function and be able to move optimally again. Many times knee injuries arise out of misalignment of the hip joint during movement. Pilates will help you strengthen the stabilizing muscles of the joints and help you become more aware of maintaining alignment of the hip and knee to optimize natural gait movement and prevent injury. If you have any additional questions or concerns feel free to email me at Crystal@PinkIslandFitness.com.
Crystal Manjarres is the owner of One-On-One Fitness, a private personal training and Pilates studio for men and women on Marco Island. She is a certified personal trainer and Stott Pilates certified instructor. Her focus is “Empowering men and women of all shapes and sizes”. To send in a question, email Crystal@PinkIslandFitness.com. She can also be reached at www.PinkIslandFitness.com or www.101FIT.com and (239) 333-5771.