AntiGravity Pilates - the next big thing for Physical and Mental health

Last Updated: 22 May 2017
Amy Fairhead

Are antigravity techniques the next big thing for physical and mental health? We looked into it and, pardon the pun, we're hooked!

We are always looking for something new and improved when it comes to health and fitness and Antigravity techniques could well be the next big thing in overall wellbeing.

Audrey Ng, specializing in posture and movement assessment, is the Director and Principal Physiotherapist of Performance Pilates and Physiotherapy. She has been incorporating pilates into her physiotherapy treatments since 1998. At her Leederville studio, she has been exploring the Harrison AntiGravity Hammock for some time, refining it and seeing how it can be used to best assist her wide variety of patients. Its main benefits are in assisting with movement retraining and neuromuscular re-education. However, she believes the wider mental benefits, through the ability to relax totally and in unexpected ways, cannot be underestimated.

Audrey was one of WA's earliest adopters of Pilates Physiotherapy. She has vast experience in the physio realm, having been the team physio for Perth Glory and the WA women's gymnastic team so she has seen pratically every type of injury and strain imaginable. Audrey is passionate about her field and the belief that one on one attention, especially in the initial phase of treatment, is essential. Her clinic is all about personalised service as she believes there is no cookie cutter approach to effective pilates therapy. The clinic is inviting, the atmosphere warm and friendly but very professional. I was instantly interested and wanted to give it a go.

The introduction of the AntiGravity hammock is part of a bigger and more diverse range of rehab techniques on offer. With a mix of traditional physio and advanced pilates equipment, the hammocks offer another way for Audrey and her team to address even the most challenging ailments.

The Harrison AntiGravity Hammock, made from a very strong, strucutal fabric, is like a soft, swinging trapeze and has been very popular for physical fitness in the U.S. However, in addition to fitness training, the AntiGravity adaptation focuses on the experience and quality of movement as opposed to just the physical activation.

Audrey and her team focus on understanding each client's needs and using the various mediums in a unique rehabilitation setting. Through pilates, they work to release pressures built up in both the body and the mind. However, dont be fooled into thinking it's an easy workout. The majority of yoga and pilates methods are advanced and can be challenging but the rewards are definitely worth the output. For those struggling with more traditional floor based exercises, the hammocks offers support and a range of movement which would otherwise be impossible to achieve, leading to an overall increase in confidence - essential to any recuperative process.

Audrey started training with the hammocks 4 years ago and was eager to get them into her practice in Perth. It took 9 months to get the hammocks engineered and set up and has since been working closely with clients, monitoring how their bodies adapt and ensuring they get the right results. The focus is to improve their functional ability and efficiency of movement through understanding the effect of gravity, posture and stability.

Audrey L NG

"We don't do classes, like the big ones you see in the gyms. We actually only offer up to 5 hammocks at a time. I prefer to take it more one on one," Audrey said.

"A lot of it is about breaking it down and facing certain fears when we are dealing with people with injuries and it is just such a good tool to help delve into that. You have to do that very gently."

AntiGravity is currently practiced in 46 countries around the world and the technique was brought to Australia in 2010. Since then, over 300 instructors have been trained across Australia. Renae Stevens is one of Australia's first AntiGravity instructors, trained by the inventor of the hammock, Christopher Harrison, in NYC and is the principal educator for AntiGravity in Australia. Renae holds a Master's degree in Mental Health and is a registered Art Therapist and Yoga Therapist specializing in trauma recovery. With a back ground in mental health, she believes the methods are phenomenal.

"We have been working with post-traumatic stress disorder and symptoms so we have seen some fantastic methods from a mind-body perspective," she said.
"We have trained quite a few physios and general practitioners and also osteopathists and chiropractors with the new techniques and they are really interested in using it clinically."

Recently, Audrey and Renae had 18-year-old Perth Glory striker, Jamal Reiners in the hammock to release tightness in his hip flexors. Again, it proved very effective in tackling a traditional injury in a different way. Audrey works with many professional athletes, particularly soccer players, and is proud to be able to offer something different during their long term rehab. She says she is able to target their fitness restrictions and muscle tightness more effectively than with other traditional physio methods. The antigravity techniques are great for groin issues, osteopubis and all types of muscle tension involved with sports.

Renae guiding Jamal

People who view themselves as having physical limitations often have a slower level of healing. A huge part of the new technique aims to program alter people's beliefs as to what they can and cannot do.

"I had a lady who had a back fusion and she has been suffering from chronic pain for quite a while. What we have been able to do is guide her and guide her mind and that has sort of flicked a switch in her mind that tells her she can get better. This has built confidence in her body and self, facilitiating the healing process." Audrey said.

She has also been working with a man who lost some mobility following a stroke. Due to his swollen legs and lack of circulation, floor pilates was not an option. Using the hammocks allowed him to find a range of movement previously denied to him.

So, whether you're suffering from joint, muscle or emotional pain or just chasing something new in terms of overal health and fitness, a bit of anti gravity action could well be for you.

For more information or to make an appointment, contact Performance Pilates and Physiotherapy.

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