How Pilates is used for rehabilitation

22nd October 2018

Written by: Jacqui Perry (Physiotherapist)

What is clinical pilates?

Pilates is a form of exercise focusing on movement patterns and muscle activation, as well as strength and flexibility. Pilates exercises can be highly variable, but all centre around engaging & stabilising muscles that are sometimes neglected with other forms of exercise.

Pilates can be mat-based, or use various equipment such as the reformer, trapeze table (Cadillac), pilates ring and weights.

Clinical pilates is different to the typical classes you may find in a gym or studio, as it is Physiotherapist led, with an individualised and graduated programme tailored to your injury or goals. Where some people struggle with group classes due to injury or pain being exacerbated with some exercises, clinical pilates can be a useful tool in treatment of these conditions, teaching you the correct patterns of movement, and altering exercises to increase your strength and control over time, then allowing you to transition into larger groups and fitness based pilates.

How does reformer pilates differ from matwork pilates?

By using the reformer, which uses springs for resistance, we can increase or decrease the difficulty of many exercises, as well as challenge control and balance further. Upper body, lower body and traditional “core” exercises can all be made more difficult by the addition or removal of springs. The moving carriage can really challenge your control, or provide a heavy resistance during a given exercise. Exercises can be done laying down, standing or kneeling.

Who can benefit from clinical pilates?

Clinical pilates is a useful treatment method in a range of musculoskeletal conditions, including lower back, upper back and neck pain, and a range of hip, knee and shoulder conditions. It is also used pre and post natal for treatment of pelvic floor issues, pregnancy related back and hip pain, DRAM and general conditioning.

It can also be useful for those without injury in improving performance and preventing injury, including runners, swimmers, golfers, dancers, rowers and footballers. Many elite athletes incorporate pilates training into their routines!

Retraining movement patterns and improving the strength and endurance of stabilizing muscles groups can be very beneficial for athletic populations and will certainly leave you feeling the burn!!

What can I expect during a session?

Your initial session will begin with a full assessment, injury history and discussion of your goals and aims to ensure that pilates is the right fit for you and to develop a tailored programme. You will be then introduced to the reformer, with one to one guidance on exercises.

Subsequent sessions will also be one to one, meaning a varied programme so that things don’t get boring! We aim to keep someone exercises the same so that you can see your progress, but you’ll get to try something new each session.

How many sessions or weeks will I need?

This varies person to person depending on your condition and goals.

For some, five to ten sessions may be enough if their goal is to learn how to safely perform exercises and then be able to attend large group classes without experiencing pain.

Some, particularly those with chronic or persistent low back pain, may wish to undertake a longer course. This will be discussed at your initial appointment.

We also work closely with Ellen and her team at Pilates East Sheen, who offers semi-private classes. So, once you have built up your confidence with one to one sessions, you may wish to continue in a small group class.

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