Pilates is one of the best ways to manage cerebral palsy. How does it actually affect your body and make it easier to live every day with a lifelong disability?
We work on muscle tone and strength, which also helps balance, mobility, flexibility, and reflexes. I have a much faster reaction time now when I stumble or slip and I can often catch myself before I fall down. My abs, bum, arms, and legs are far stronger and more toned. I can see my strong abs, and my arms aren’t as flabby as they used to be. My clothes fit differently, and I’m not as bloated or uncomfortable after a meal. Using props and the pull down bar also help with grip strength and hand dexterity because you have to hold the props correctly to use them.
We open the jammed hips, release the tight back line and relax the achy shoulders. Releasing and relaxing the hips also helps a tight and tonic pelvic floor. Having cerebral palsy means the body is always stiff to a certain extent, and regular Pilates is one of the best ways to manage it.
Having cerebral palsy can be exhausting. You burn so much energy just trying to do normal things like walk somewhere to get groceries or take the dog for a run in the park. Just getting out of bed and having a shower can be tiring. Pilates is great for a boost of energy. It’s good exercise, but it doesn’t deplete you.
One of the biggest ways Pilates helps cerebral palsy is posture correction. This goes for every client with any kind of concern. Clients who come in with their shoulders up by their ears (we call them earrings) leave standing straighter and carrying themselves with more confidence. One year of Pilates led to a complete transformation in my posture: my pelvis untwisted and the huge curve in my lower back was much less noticeable.
Balance is often a huge challenge with cerebral palsy, whether it’s getting over a snow bank, stepping off a curb, sitting on a bar stool, or using an escalator. Once we work on strengthening the abs and the tush, the balance significantly improves and the back pain diminishes. Strong abs and a strong bum are essential for good balance, and we use lots of props to challenge the balance and make it better.
What challenges do you have with cerebral palsy?