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Pilates vs “Clinical” Pilates - so what's the difference?

Updated: Apr 15

A physiotherapist assessing a male patient on a pilates machine for lower back pain

What is Clinical Pilates?

“Pilates” is everywhere, it’s on instagram, it’s in the gym, even your 80 year old grandma might be doing it!!

Pilates is basically a style of exercise that focuses on alignment, breathing and mindful control of your body and movement. It can be performed on mats or on specialized pilates equipment which we use in our modern fully equipped Pilates studio.

Clinical Pilates is when a trained therapist (for example your friendly physiotherapists at In Stride Health Clinic 😊), use pilates exercises to help treat and manage your injury or pain. Physiotherapists are trained in the diagnosis of injuries, movement dysfunctions and muscle imbalances that lead to pain. We have a whole bag of tricks that we use to manage these presentations and one of those tools can be the use of pilates exercises.

For example, you may have a disc bulge in your lower back. The physio can use a pilates style exercise to produce an extension load in your spine that will give you the ability to self manage your disc bulge throughout the day at work. Or you may present with groin pain that is caused by your hip joint being overloaded and not getting the control it needs from the muscles that should be supporting it. Your physio will give you some specific pilates exercises to isolate and target that muscle activation and retrain it. Why should you do Clinical Pilates?

In a Clinical pilates studio you will have your own program of exercises to target your specific goals and injuries. You may find a person who has recently had back surgery working alongside a person training for their first marathon. Each of them working on their own program with separate exercises. This is different to a general pilates class where every person is doing the same “one size fits all” set of exercises.

So why choose Clinical Pilates over Pilates?

  • To get high level of supervision and progression from a physiotherapist

  • To manage an injury or pain presentation

  • For safety in commencing exercise after an injury or surgery

  • To address an issue that is affecting your sport or exercise

  • For a wider variety of equipment

  • To have a program that is suited to your individual fitness and strength level

  • If you sit at a desk all day and you get back pain, neck pain or headaches.

  • If you are pre or post natal and therefore can’t continue in your normal exercise routine during those stages.

  • To claim under private health insurance (if we are treating a specific condition).

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