Are you twisted? Addressing Asymmetrical Bodies & Unbalanced Movement Patterns in Pilates

| Dr. Sarah Petrich

Are you twisted?

Ever notice one leg looks longer than the other or you are much more flexible on one side than the other despite your best stretching efforts? Maybe you’ve laid down and noticed one foot falls out and the other doesn’t? Does one side of your ribs flare out more than the other? Are your shoulders even or does one slope lower than the other? Ever squat and notice one knee likes to roll in or out? Are your foot arches even or is one flatter than the other? You may be a little….twisted.

Asymmetry is a normal part of life, most of us are a little…”off”. Many of us are completely unaware of our little, or not so little, asymmetries. But when these asymmetries or imbalances reach a certain threshold, injury and pain can occur. Some people may seek treatment from a chiropractor or other medical professional to help re-align the spine but what helps keep us in that new position? How do we combat the years of habitual unbalanced movement? Re-training.

Pilates addressing asymmetry?

Pilates has been a pillar of movement retraining since the 1930’s when Joseph Pilates introduced Contrology. The purpose of Pilates is to make our bodies more efficient at moving to decrease stress to our joints and decompress our spine. However, it rarely takes into account the most common barrier to efficiency – unbalanced movement patterns. Pilates instructors are actually very good at spotting these asymmetrical signs and patterns but traditional comprehensive Pilates training doesn’t offer the education to understanding these patterns and addressing them. Too often Pilates training assumes that the skeleton and neuromuscular programing of each human being is symmetrical. It just isn’t true! Because of that symmetrical assumption, exercises tend to be given equally on both sides even if one side is stronger than the other. This approach only strengthens the asymmetrical pattern instead of balancing it out.

Instead, consider having the ability to recognize the most dominate overactive patterns that contribute to injury, pain and inefficient movement. Imagine having the tools to accurately target those imbalances and retrain them on the Pilates reformer, chair or mat. These exercises wouldn’t be symmetrical exercises but they would specific and targeted towards that individuals impairments so they can finally balance out those patterns. The Postural Restoration Institute identified the most predictable dominate patterns decades ago and retrains them with specific, targeted exercises to help us be the most efficient movers we can be. Luckily, they have now combined their concepts with Pilates in a new teacher training course to create a new unique “twist” to many of your favorite reformer, chair & mat exercises. You can learn all about these patterns and how to effectively address them in our virtual Pilates class.

Pilates is still a wonderful retraining method, but attention to these common habitual, nature driven, asymmetrical patterns is paramount if we want to make our bodies as efficient and pain free as possible.

Starting on July 12th, our virtual Pilates class will be held at 10:30 am on Mondays for eight weeks. Email to get signed up today!

Dr. Sarah Petrich
LYL Physical Therapist

Dr. Sarah Petrich’s first interest in movement and the human body was through dance. She’s been dancing for over 25 years and taught dance for over 10 years. Her fascination with movement propelled her to obtain a Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science, as well as a Masters of Physical Therapy in 2005 from St Catherine University. She continued her education to receive a Doctorate of Physical Therapy in 2006.

Inspired by Ron Hruska’s approach to therapy and biomechanics, Sarah received her Postural Restoration Certification (PRC) in 2011. In 2013, she completed her Pilates rehabilitation training with Polestar Pilates and is Pilates Method Alliance Certified. She combines these two specialties to correct musculoskeletal imbalances and asymmetries, decrease pain and increase ease and efficiency of movement so clients become a stronger, balanced and relaxed self.

Sarah continues to be active in dance through dance medicine. She has presented on various topics for Minnesota Dance Medicine Foundation, Postural Restoration Institute’s PRC Conference, Fairview’s MN SportsMedicine Conference, TRIA Orthopaedics, and local dance schools. She is a member of the International Association for Dance Medicine and Science (IADMS) and Minnesota Dance Medicine Foundation (MDMF) where she volunteers to manage and treat at their non-profit clinic for under-insured dancers and promotes dance health through research and community education.

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