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Clinical Pilates – Do you need to ‘Feel the burn’?

November 2nd 2015

Pilates has been the exercise of choice for dancers and gymnasts (and now Hollywood actors), but it was originally used to rehabilitate bedridden or immobile patients during World War I.

Pilates is a method of movement that was developed and refined by Joseph Pilates throughout the 20th Century. After his death, the method evolved and developed with training throughout the world. Pilates #5

The diversity in training and interpretation of the work has been its strength, but it can also be a problem for maintaining quality for clients. The result is seeing teachers become a pilates instructor after a 3 day course, whilst others completed lengthy theoretical and a protocol based training.

Clinical Pilates Instructors have completed the training courses recognised by both the Australian Pilates Method and the Australian Physiotherapy Association or ESSA. These courses have meant Physiotherapists and Exercise Physiologists have a deep understanding of the pilates method and how that method can be applied to movement, posture and rehabilitation.

These exercises, guided by your pilates instructor, can be modified to achieve specific rehabilitation outcomes such as improving posture, increasing balance, reducing back pain or treating a specific condition. It is a much more injury specific approach. For example, for people who sit for long periods and suffer from headaches due to poor posture, they can be guided through a clinical pilates program to improve flexibility in the upper back and gain better muscular control of the neck and shoulder blade muscles.

Clinical Pilates should never be offered as a one size fits all. People need to be aware that if they are completing exercises beyond their controlled stability, it can cause aggravation and pain.

IMG_2775_1I often get told by patients have been doing pilates that they still have back pain. Before starting, it is important that you are doing the exercises correctly and you stabilise or use your core muscles in isolation. This can be tested by Real Time Ultrasound and this way both the therapist and the patient can see if they are doing the exercises correctly and not wasting your time or money for the class. I have lost count of the number of patients that once they are shown how to do the exercises correctly, there clinical symptoms start to improve.

Some other examples of when pilates can be beneficial include pregnancy pilates, osteoporosis, following breast cancer surgery, back and knee injuries and many other specific conditions. For the sports minded, pilates is a great way of helping to strengthen and improve your general condition and performance as a dancer, cyclist, swimmer, runner or other sports specific areas.

There are 2 types of classes. There are equipment based classes, as well as mat classes. Equipment classes are personalised with a maximum of 3 clients per teacher. These classes utilise a range of equipment including a reformer/core align and other specialised equipment. Each person undertakes their own personalised program.

For those people that cannot get up and down off the ground due to injury or back pain, there are now pilates exercises done in the water called “hydrolates”. The program is in heated water with a qualified instructor.

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