Using physio-led Pilates to rehabilitate injuries | Living North

Using physio-led Pilates to rehabilitate injuries


Many of us have experienced the physical benefits that Pilates provides, including added strength and agility. We discover how physio-led Pilates can be even more effective in the rehabilitation of injury, with Kevin Kennedy of Gosforth Physio

Many of our injuries are caused by muscular imbalances within our bodies which stem from our posture, the way we walk, bend over, sit, lie down, or work out – basically, the way we move. As we approach an epidemic of sedentariness, we are becoming weaker and, as a result, our bodies experience more stress when we move. 

Gosforth Physio is home to the largest physio-led Pilates studio in the North East, and their classes could be the antidote to modern life. They work to increase our body’s strength, resilience and confidence, while also decreasing stress and fear of movement. We chatted to Kevin to find out more. 

When did you discover pilates?
I used to be a builder, but I also taught kick boxing and boxing. About 20 years ago I ruptured a disk and started to experience pains, which resulted in me being off work for many months. I had been to Pilates before and thought they were a waste of time. But when I later went onto become a junior physio – and as I was still experiencing those issues – I was encouraged to try Pilates by one of the other physios. It began to work for me, but personally I found it very boring. I then decided to get back into kick boxing and boxing, but the pains started to come back. I reluctantly decided to go back to Pilates, and the way I began to view it was as my medicine.

When did the idea for physio-led Pilates develop?
I’m dyslexic, so I can’t spell very well, but I can see patterns very easily. I was working in the NHS and treating 125 people a week, and it was core-crazy – we were always encouraging people to reset their core. But, people were coming back after going away and doing their exercises, and they were getting worse. You’re full of ego and you think, it’s not me, it’s them – they mustn’t be doing their exercises properly. Then you realise, these are intelligent people, they are doing what you’ve asked, it’s just not working. I began to look deeper. The belief was that if you pre-set or pre-engage the transverse abdominis you will eliminate back pain, but there’s actually no scientific evidence, at least since 1989, about the notion of the core whatsoever. Actually, if you keep pre-setting those muscles, you can create problems. In the British Olympics some of the female athletes have actually been so overzealous in pre-setting those core muscles that they’ve begun to experience urinary incontinence problems. Pilates is just a man who created some movements that work your muscles. He did come up with a good idea, but some of his 32 exercises are not worth doing because they’ll cause you back pain. But, in the hands of a good physio it can be much better. Every good physio should know every muscle, every nerve that supplies each muscle, every joint, movement patterns, how pain works, and we can work your body’s issues out.

How do the classes work?
At Gosforth Physio we run a ‘Better By Five’ scheme – if you are no better within four of five sessions, we stop the process. After five sessions you should be feeling 70 percent better. We try to give you a deep knowledge and the power to fix yourself. We have 10 people in a class, and teach exercises to each person which are correct for their body, and we work out their weaknesses. It takes around three to six months to strengthen your muscles – if you’re over 50 it may be closer to six – but it’s like brushing your teeth, if you don’t do your exercises you will not get the results you’re looking for. 

Do you have to need physio to attend the classes?
I teach Pilates to the Newcastle Gymnastic Society, where there are people preparing for the Olympics. I have someone in a class who suffers from scoliosis and has a metal spine, I teach another lady with two new hips. We work out your body, depending on whatever it is you want to achieve, so we can work with anyone.  

If you’re suffering from injury, or are simply looking to improve your health and wellbeing contact Gosforth Physio and try a class for free.

Published in: March 2020

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