The Joys and Challenges of Core Stability Research and Teaching – Part 1
an interview with Dr. Amit Abraham by Anthony Lett for BASI Pilates
Lett: Dr. Amit Abraham, I am delighted to welcome you into the BASI community! I cannot wait to attend your two certificate courses at BASI in 2017, “The Core of Core Stability”and “Imagery Training for Enhancing Pilates Performance and Teaching [coming in October, class registration will open in March]”. They are both so relevant for Pilates professionals. You have such an interesting background, I am sure that Pilates teachers will be interested to hear about your history, and excited about the opportunity to further their Pilates education with you and BASI.
Please tell us what you have been working on and studying for the past ten years. I know it involves completing a PhD with the researchers who can be described as the “discoverers” of core stability.
Dr. Abraham: Indeed. I’ll do my best to answer that. After graduating from PT school and working in the field for a few years, I decided I wanted to learn more about core stability and its contribution to human movement and function. I can’t really explain why I was so attracted to this topic — probably because I felt I didn’t know too much about it. So I decided to travel to the other side of the world to learn from the best researchers in the field.
I went to the University of Queensland, in Brisbane, Australia and completed my Masters in musculoskeletal PT under the supervision of Prof. Gwen Jull and Prof. Paul Hodges, who are considered the modern generation of researchers who brought the awareness of core stability from a scientific point of view. It was an amazing experience. Learning in detail about the anatomy, biomechanics, pathophysiology, and clinical aspects of core stability developed so much my skills both as a researcher and a clinician. Even today, after more than 10 years of treating probably thousands of patients; teaching hundreds of Pilates, Yoga, and Feldenkrais teachers; and lecturing in international conferences and scientific forums I’m still passionate about it and eager to share this amazing knowledge with as many people as possible.
I continued on to acquire my PhD in PT which focused on another fascinating aspect I specialize in: imagery training for enhancing dance and motor performance. Since I heard about this topic, I just knew I wanted to research it. The world of imagery unites everything I’m fascinating about: brain science, human performance, psychology, and a lot of love and care for my patients and clients. The idea of being able to assist dancers, performers, and other populations to move and function better by empowering them and teaching them a useful tool they can take and use without my constant help, is just making me happy.
Today, my research focuses on the effect of the Franklin Method on dance performance, as well as the effect of an improvisational body movement called Gaga on dancers at various levels and people with Parkinson’s Disease. Surprisingly, I think there is a lot of common between the two populations: They both love and want to move. I’m truly trying to contribute my tiny share to help them all get there. I hope I’ll make a meaningful contribution through my research and clinical work.
Lett: How did you get involved in Pilates?
Dr. Abraham: When I was in 1st year in PT school in Tel-Aviv University (in Tel-Aviv, Israel), there was a rumor that a teachers course in a new method called Pilates was about to open soon. Without hesitation, and without really knowing what Pilates was, I went there with a dear friend and registered. It was an eye-opening experience. I was fortunate to have Mr. Gideon Avrahami as a teacher and fell in love with Pilates — the wisdom, the finesse, the variability, and the most important thing: it just felt right in my body. I remember the feeling after each and every class.
Lett: Did you find that your role as a clinical practitioner enabled you to test your research constantly in a clinical setting? Did this also help refine and direct your research?
Dr. Abraham: I truly believe so. I also think that clinicians (especially PTs) make great researchers, because they tend to truly care for their patients. Whenever I design a research project, I don’t forget my second hat as a clinician. I must have an answer to the following question: “So what? What good does it bring to my patients?” If I’m happy with the answer I give myself, I go and move to the next step in the research design. I also feel that being a clinician enables me to think of more relevant research questions — things I can’t find answers to in the literature or while discussing it with my colleagues. I believe that some of the most important ideas for research come from the clinical field.
In addition, being a clinician, I try to conduct my research ‘in the field’. Labs are fun, but the dance or Pilates studio is more relevant for me. It is more challenging (imagine turning a Pilates studio into a research lab for a week or two), but I just love it. And I feel that these are the times I contribute the best of me to both clinical and research fields. I love them both so much!
Sign up for Dr. Abraham’s Workshops at BASI HQ in Costa Mesa, CA
The Core of Core Stability, Feb. 25-26, 2017
Imagery Training for Enhancing Pilates Performance and Teaching, Oct. 21-22, 2017 sign up coming soon