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Know your boundaries

This is the fifth in a series of articles by BASI principal instructor Theo van der Riet dealing with Pilates teaching techniques and concepts.Know your boundaries Being a certified Pilates instructor enables the instructor to teach the method of Pilates.

Enabling the Pilates teacher to teach Pilates repertoire on the mat and various specialized Pilates equipment, giving cues, making corrections, constructing a class suitable for each individual’s needs and ultimately retrain incorrect movement patterns.

Directly enhancing strength, flexibility, posture, and many more essential contributions towards each client’s health and well being.

As a Pilates instructor, a Pilates Certification course does not teach or provide a license to prospective instructors to make a diagnosis, read x-rays or treat pain and pathology (not that I’m aware of ). Therefore it is of paramount importance to know where the boundaries are when the situation arises when dealing with clients with pain and pathology.

According to research (Hodges, 2003) “… there is consistent evidence of altered recruitment in the presence of Pain. Pain affects slow motor unit recruitment more significantly than fast motor unit recruitment…”  Therefore thinking that you can make a client feel better by working through pain is senseless, as the slow motor units will not recruit and chances are great that compensatory patterns or substitution strategies will develop.

The best advice I can give you is to refer clients that suffer from pain and pathology to a medical professional that can assist the client with their specific issue. Building a network of medical professional that can work with you and your clients will give your clientele the sense that you have their best interest at heart and referring clients/patients back and forth will build your business and give your studio a great reputation.

Placing yourself in a situation where you make a diagnosis or read an x-ray can potentially be very embarrassing and can have legal implications. The word ‘rehabilitation’ must also be used with caution. In order to provide a rehabilitation service especially in movement, a therapist/instructor need to go through extensive and highly specialized training.

Pilates instructors are excellent instructors on retraining incorrect movement patterns and therefore indirectly encourages functional and efficient movement.  You have so many exercises and movement tools to have an invaluable contribution towards a person’s health and well being and prevention of recurring injuries.

Always ask yourself if your insurance cover the services that you offer? Answering this will give you a clear idea of what you can and cannot do within you scope of practice.

Knowing a little bit of everything is very dangerous. Keep on learning and be respectful when teaching or working with another human being’s body. Knowledge is power and know your boundaries.

Have fun teaching.

Theo van der Riet – Botha
BASI Pilates™ Principal Instructor

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