Anyone who has practiced pilates knows how beneficial it can be for your body, but pilates also has numerous benefits for the brain – and the connections between the two.
A specific type of pilates called NeuroPilates focuses on how pilates can be combined with functional neurology with the aim of stimulating the nervous system.
But why is stimulating the nervous system during pilates beneficial, and why has this form of pilates become so popular recently? Let’s find out.
NeuroPilates: What Is It?
As stated above, NeuroPilates, or Neurological Pilates, is a type of pilates that combines the movements typical of traditional pilates with functional neurology (also known as chiropractic neurology).
The latter is a form of exercise that essentially trains the brain and nervous system to make neuroplastic changes.
When this happens, the brain is able to form new connections, improving its function, which is ideal for people with neurological conditions.
Pilates combined with functional neurology creates a kind of neurologically-focused physiotherapy which benefits both the brain and the body.
What Are The Benefits Of NeuroPilates?
We have referred to NeuroPilates as ‘beneficial’ several times over the course of this article already – but what are the actual benefits of this form of pilates?
First of all, like regular pilates, NeuroPilates will help to strengthen your muscles, particularly those in your core region and your limbs.
You will also benefit from better flexibility, better posture, and a general improvement in awareness towards your body.
Anyone would experience these benefits if they practiced NeuroPilates, but the benefits are even greater for those who experience neurological symptoms such as lack of coordination (including poor balance), memory loss, headaches, muscle weakness, or a general decline in mental functioning.
NeuroPilates helps to increase balance, which reduces a person’s risk of falling and hurting themselves.
People who practice NeuroPilates to help with their neurological symptoms generally find that they are able to function better on a daily basis and recover more quickly after a seizure or a stroke.
Who Is NeuroPilates For?
While NeuroPilates is specifically designed to help people living with neurological conditions to manage their symptoms, there is no restriction on who can take a NeuroPilates class.
As we mentioned earlier, NeuroPilates has many of the same benefits as traditional pilates, including improved muscular strength and flexibility.
However, even the benefits that are particularly good for treating the symptoms of neurological conditions can be enjoyed by people without any such conditions.
For example, you can want to improve your balance and spatial awareness without having a neurological condition, and NeuroPilates will help you to do exactly that.
Besides, research has shown that in addition to treating symptoms and slowing the progression of neurological disease, neurological exercise such as NeuroPilates can even help to prevent the onset of these illnesses, so everyone can benefit from NeuroPilates in some way.
What Conditions Can NeuroPilates Help?
Although you certainly don’t have to have been diagnosed with any kind of illness to benefit from NeuroPilates, this type of pilates can help with a wide variety of neurological conditions, including:
- Multiple sclerosis – This is a condition that affects both the brain and the spinal cord because the immune system is attacking the myelin sheath, which protects the nerves that connect the spinal cord to the brain. As a result, MS can cause numbness, fatigue, spasms, problems with vision, cognitive difficulties, and mobility issues.
- Amyothropic lateral sclerosis – Also known as ALS, Amyothropic lateral sclerosis is a relatively rare condition that impacts muscle movement due to degeneration of the nerve cells in the spinal cord and brain. This is a progressive condition that is ultimately fatal, but the progression of the disease can be slowed down with neurological physiotherapy.
- Fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia is a condition that has been misunderstood for a long time and has only been recognized as a neurological condition quite recently. It’s a syndrome that causes musculoskeletal pain and might also impact energy levels, mood, and memory.
- Alzheimers – Alzheimer’s disease is one of the most common and well-known neurological diseases. Also known as dementia, Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive condition that impacts memory and mental functioning, which often translates into altered behavior, but its progression can be slowed with neurological treatment, including neurological physiotherapy.
- Epilepsy – When an individual has epilepsy, this means that they have had at least two, if not more, seizures. There are multiple types of epilepsy, and they cause different kinds of seizures. Generalized, focal, and unknown seizures can all be minimized with regular neurological treatment.
- Brain tumors – A brain tumor may or may not be caused by a type of cancer, but regardless of whether a brain tumor is malignant or not, it is considered a neurological condition because the pressure on the brain and connected nerves can impact mental functioning, mobility, behavior, and cause pain such as headaches.
- Muscular dystrophy – Muscular dystrophy refers to several genetic conditions that cause progressive weakening of the muscles. Since pilates strengthens the muscles, and NeuroPilates does so along with targeted neurological physiotherapy, it can be an effective treatment for various types of muscular dystrophy.
- Parkinson’s disease – When someone has Parkinson’s disease, areas of their brain become damaged over time. This can be caused by both environmental and genetic factors, and the disease causes symptoms like tremors, muscle rigidity, impaired movement, and difficulty speaking.
- Migraines/cluster headaches – These two common but debilitating types of headaches are neurological conditions that cause sufferers to experience severe headaches. With a migraine, the headache can be felt anywhere in the head or face and may be accompanied by light sensitivity, noise sensitivity, or aura (visual disturbances). Cluster headaches happen in groups (hence the name) and are usually located behind one eye. They don’t last as long as migraines but they can cause drooping or swollen eyelids, watery eyes, sweating, or nasal congestion in addition to the intense pain.
- Stroke – While a stroke is not a long-term neurological condition, but rather a neurological event, several neurological conditions can increase a person’s risk of having a stroke, and doing NeuroPilates can help to lessen this risk. NeuroPilates has also been shown to help with recovery after a stroke because stroke patients often suffer from limited mobility and cognitive difficulties during the recovery period.
This is not an exhaustive list of the conditions with which NeuroPilates can help, but rather an overview of some of the most common neurological conditions that can be impacted positively by regular NeuroPilates.
Anyone can derive benefits from NeuroPilates, which is a type of pilates that combines traditional pilates movements with functional neurology (neurological physiotherapy).
The movements practiced in NeuroPilates can help to alleviate symptoms or slow down the progression of neurological illnesses, ranging from multiple sclerosis to Parkinson’s disease.
Practicing NeuroPilates regularly, whether you have a neurological condition or not, should lead to improvements in your muscle strength, flexibility, and posture.
You’re also likely to notice that you have better balance and coordination and are able to function better from a cognitive perspective on a daily basis. Recovery from neurological events, such as strokes or seizures, is another benefit.
NeuroPilates should be practiced with the supervision of a qualified instructor to ensure that the physiotherapy is being executed correctly and safely.