The Cult of Pilates

Most people have heard of Clinical Pilates, but what makes it Clinical? And why is it so popular?

What is it?

Clinical Pilates is the application of a system of movement, called “The Pilates Method”, by highly trained specialists such as Physiotherapists, Myotherapists and Exercise Physiologists with the aim of correcting movement deformity. What this means to the average person is that if you’ve had injury to a muscle or joint, or have a chronic pain condition such as osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia or disc prolapse, this injury will cause patterns of muscle weakness, tightness and these result in further pain and reduced function in day-to-day life. By expertly assessing these patterns of weakness and tightness, your therapist can structure an exercise program that will retrain your ability to move normally and with less pain.

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Why should I do it?

The Pilates Method is more than just exercise, it is a philosophy of movement which involves learning how to move the spine and major joints in an efficient and supported way, changing your awareness of your body and improving its ability to cope with gradually increasing load. Education of controlled breathing and the effect on stabilising the trunk and pelvis is a key element, and through repetitive practise this breathing and joint control is incorporated into normal life activity outside the studio. It is this improvement in body awareness, strength and breathing that makes The Pilates Method so successful at rehabilitating injuries and improving daily function.

Is all Pilates the same?

While many different sorts of Pilates classes are available on  the market, those with large class sizes, too much emphasis on intensity, or taught by instructors who aren’t already high-level movement specialists will simply not have the degree of assessment, supervision and sophistication to properly manage a person who has pain. The patient may get stronger, but entrenched patterns of asymmetry and weakness will likely be missed and this results in strengthening muscles that are already over-active and inadequately activating the weaker groups, worsening the underlying imbalance and therefore pain. Knowing when to do less, and how build from a low-level to more challenging exercise through layering of difficulty and change of position is the skill of the Clinical Pilates Instructor.

Types of Pilates

Mat: Exercises performed on a soft mat, using body weight and gravity as the main resistance, with some accessories used for extra challenge, like Chi-Ball, Pilates-Circle and Foam Roller. Excellent for Beginner to Advanced patients, and an incredible way of building the foundations and body awareness for some of the more challenging equipment excercises

Equipment: Exercises performed on the Pilates Reformer, Cadillac and Wunda-Chair, all of which offer spring resisted or assisted movement, often on a moving platform. It is this use of spring resistance that allows such graduated increase in load. Springs have little resistance at the very beginning of movement, and then increase as load is applied to the spring. This allows loading without any “sudden” jerk or pull, meaning less chance of injury.

Clinical Pilates can be applied to any injury, movement disorder or pain condition, and is appropriate for all ages from early teens to older adults and even complex neurological conditions. When other exercise options are failing you, and you’d like to see what all the fuss is about, call or book for your initial on-on-one session and we’ll find a class or option that best suits your needs. 

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