What is Clinical Pilates and what can it do for me?

"Body in Common are the Clinical Pilates Specialists, using a combination of Physiotherapy and Pilates to solve Chronic Pain. See how it can help you."

Are you looking to fix your chronic back pain? Getting ready for a baby? Have you ever wondered whether Clinical Pilates will help you overcome these challenges? Then you’ve come to the right place. 


Bodies are the world’s most complex machines.  We all have ongoing pains and issues, and while there are many short-term solutions out there to make you feel good, if a bit of massage and quick spine correction actually worked, why do you still have pain in the longer term?  


But there is good news: while there is no quick fix to these body issues, there are real, scientifically proven methods to being drug-free, pain-free, with a well-maintained body.  Based on providing real, long-term improvement, this is where Clinical Pilates combined with Australian-style Physiotherapy comes to the rescue.  Clinical Pilates is the best solution to improving chronic pain and tackling other muscular-skeletal issues without the use of drugs or invasive surgery.


In its simplest form, Pilates is a set of exercises that helps you strengthen your core, striking a balance between strength, posture, and flexibility, and creating efficient body movements to improve your quality of life.These exercises are dynamic, low-impact, and target all of the usually under-used muscles in the body that are critical to pain-free movement.


Thanks to celebrity endorsements, Pilates has now become a buzzword in today’s fitness scenario. From athletes to movie stars, everyone advocates the benefits of Pilates. Despite this modern buzz, Clinical Pilates has been evolving in the muscular-skeletal rehabilitation field for decades, and now is solidly backed by modern science and decades of success cases.  In particular, Australian Physiotherapy now relies heavily on Clinical Pilates for tackling body issues that otherwise don’t have any solutions. 

Neck Pain Affects Everybody


Clinical Pilates Has Been Evolving for Over 100 Years

Commonly mispronounced as ‘Pilate’, this field is actually named after its founder: Joseph Hubertus Pilates (so we always say the ‘s’!). 


Born in Germany, Joseph moved to England in 1912, and was imprisoned in an internment camp during World War 1.   It was during this time in prison that Joseph began experimenting and nurturing his exercise techniques. Many of Joseph’s earlier exercises were focused on rehabilitating severely injured, bed-ridden war veterans.  His genius included rigging springs to the ends of beds to enable patients to do rehabilitating exercises without needing to stand up. You can still see this history in modern Pilates equipment today, with its use of springs, and a variety of body positions.


Joseph termed his technique ‘Contrology’, a blend of western and eastern philosophy, focused on conscious control of movement. Although the name didn’t stick, the method did, and after decades of evolution, it finally made its way to mainstream use in the Physiotherapy world (For those who don’t know, Physios are the world’s Muscular-Skeletal Rehabilitation specialists, with strict studying and licensing requirements). and has now been evolving for over 100 years. ​[1] 

Types of Clinical Pilates

Pilates consists of two types: Mat Pilates and Equipment Pilates. The online ‘Pilates at Home’ videos of the 1980’s have made mat work the most recognized form of Pilates, but it’s actually the equipment that helps professionals to carry out effective rehabilitation.


There are some key differences between Clinical Pilates and Fitness Pilates. Regular Pilates sessions are conducted by Pilates instructors, whereas Clinical Pilates sessions are supervised by a trained Physiotherapist or Exercise Physiologist. 


This fundamental distinction is particularly critical because unlike an instructor, a trained Physiotherapist has years of study in body function, pathology, injury prevention, the muscular-skeletal system, and functional movement.   


Equipment Pilates uses five main pieces of equipment: the Reformer, the Chair, the Trapeze Table, the Barrel and the Spine Corrector. Each piece of equipment focuses on different movements and muscles, and together, they form a full-body system.​[1] 

What are the Principles of Clinical Pilates?

There are six fundamental principles to be followed in Pilates exercises to reap maximum benefits.

1 - Concentration

While gym workouts focus on big, powerful muscles, it is much more difficult to correctly activate all of the smaller mobility and posture muscles in the body.  It’s not uncommon to see people get more back pain after doing exercises, as they are unknowingly working on the very muscles that cause the back pain! Clinical Pilates rectifies this problem, through slower concentration on form and activation of the right muscles for the condition.

2 - Alignment

Concentrating on attaining a neutral spine and activating the core stabilizing muscles, resulting in better quality movement, and reduced pain throughout your daily life.

3 - Precision

It is imperative to execute each exercise with precision and correct technique.

4 - Flow

Achieve a smooth and efficient body movement. There is no heaving or jerkiness in Pilates – all movement should be natural, low-impact, and efficient.

5 - Control

Maintain correct exercise postures with control over body movements.

6 - Breathing

Have a relaxed and natural breathing pattern throughout the exercise. Please don’t hold your breath!

Benefits of Clinical Pilates

If you’ve made it this far into the article, chances are you have significant pain or body issues that you need to fix.  The good news is that most conditions are solvable, and you’ll also get many other benefits as well. One of the most crucial aspects of Clinical Pilates is the explicit impact it has on the human body as a whole. There are several scientifically proven benefits associated with Clinical Pilates.

1 - For Men and Women of all Ages: Enhance your overall health and live a drug-free, pain-free life.

It’s all about building a strong, mobile, and pain-free body, without the use of expensive drugs, or risky, invasive surgery.  When you do targeted exercises in a consistent manner, you will bolster your physical and mental health. To date, there is no better method than targeted exercises with a highly-qualified muscular-skeletal specialist.  


Clinical Pilates is evidence based, and backed up by the science.  Evidence suggests that Pilates improves sleep quality and quality of life in sedentary population.[2] Researchers have also successfully demonstrated improvements in mental health and energy levels. [3]


Studies show that Pilates helps in developing muscle strength, postural balance and quality of life in older adults. [4]  And not just in healthy populations, Pilates has also been shown to improve cognition and quality of life in Multiple Sclerosis patients. [5]


This means that as we tackle your personal body issues with a targeted programme, you’re also benefiting from a whole host of other life-improving effects.


2 - An extra benefit for women: Gear you up for pregnancy

Pilates is excellent in preparing your body for pregnancy. Studies have indicated that Pilates is an effective and safe workout for reducing pain, especially in the third trimester of pregnancy. [6] The true power of Clinical Pilates in women is the ability to target the Transverse Abdominus and Pevlic Floor muscles: muscles that are extremely difficult to work out with other forms of exercise.  This is key in maintaining a healthy body before and after pregnancy, and reducing the probability of experiencing incontinence and the dreaded ‘Diastasis Recti’ (The post-baby mummy tummy).  [7,8,9]

3 - Strengthens Your Core, and Improves Flexibility.

Core strengthening is one of the most neglected aspects of fitness. While many fitness programmes work on the primary power muscles of the body, working on the underlying core and posture muscles is an extremely effective way to improve mobility. 

Pilates-based core strengthening workouts are highly advised as you get older, to keep you moving, and reduce the risk of falls. [10]  


Because of our 9-5 desk jobs, poor flexibility has now turned into a chronic condition.  Pilates helps in stretching the muscle groups that are affected by prolonged sitting habits, improving muscle endurance and flexibility. [12]

4 - Reduces Lower Back Pain

Lower Back Pain: if you’re over 30 and have an office job, chances are you have it.  As our lives stray further from activity, and rely more on computers, our hamstring muscles shorten, hip-flexors tighten, and the result is too much stress on the lower spine.  If you’re suffering from chronic back pain, Pilates can help you alleviate the pain by releasing the tension from specific muscle groups, while strengthening others to re-balance the body..  


Studies demonstrate that Pilates can help reduce the pain and disability associated with lower back pain, and we frequently solve this issue in our studio.. [13,14]

5 - Is the Key to Injury Prevention, by Improving Functional Movement and Stability

As Pilates develops muscular support and posture, it helps in injury prevention. Pilates is great for athletes, dancers and the older population as they are more prone to injury.  


Researchers found Pilates to be beneficial in reducing fall risks by improving balance measures in older adults. [16,17,18] 

How Do I Start, and How Long Will It Take?

In general, for best results, it is advised to complete 2 Clinical Pilates sessions a week.  

If you’re suffering from chronic back pain, preparing for a baby, recovering from an injury or looking for a programme to improve your well-being, you’re ready forour Clinical Pilates System. Usually within just 6 sessions (3 weeks), you will already see real improvement in your body and find relief from your body ailments.  You will have started the journey to a better body, and a drug-free, pain-free life.

“Body in Common is an Australian-Style Physiotherapy Studio in Bangsar, Malaysia. We provide Physiotherapy and Clinical Pilates services in our studio, as well as online Telehealth services to people around the globe. Feel free to get in touch and look after yourself.”

Backed By Evidence. References

  1. Owsley, A. (2005). An introduction to clinical Pilates. International Journal of Athletic Therapy and Training, 10(4), 19-25. 
  1. Leopoldino, A. A. O., Avelar, N. C. P., Passos Jr, G. B., Santana Jr, N. Á. P., Teixeira Jr, V. P., de Lima, V. P., & de Melo Vitorino, D. F. (2013). Effect of Pilates on sleep quality and quality of life of sedentary population. Journal of bodywork and movement therapies,             17(1), 5-10. 
  1. Fleming, K. M., & Herring, M. P. (2018). The effects of pilates on mental health outcomes: A meta-analysis of controlled trials. Complementary therapies in medicine, 37, 80-95. 
  1. de Oliveira, L. C., de Oliveira, R. G., & de Almeida Pires-Oliveira, D. A. (2015). Effects of Pilates on muscle strength, postural balance and quality of life of older adults: a randomized, controlled, clinical trial. Journal of physical therapy science, 27(3), 871-876. 
  1. Küçük, F., Kara, B., Poyraz, E. Ç., & İdiman, E. (2016). Improvements in cognition, quality of life, and physical performance with clinical Pilates in multiple sclerosis: a randomized controlled trial. Journal of physical therapy science, 28(3), 761-768. 
  1. Oktaviani, I. (2018). Pilates workouts can reduce pain in pregnant women. Complementary therapies in clinical practice, 31, 349-351. 
  1. Rodríguez-Díaz, L., Ruiz-Frutos, C., Vázquez-Lara, J. M., Ramírez-Rodrigo, J., Villaverde-Gutiérrez, C., & Torres-Luque, G. (2017). Effectiveness of a physical activity programme based on the Pilates method in pregnancy and labour. Enfermería Clínica (English Edition), 27(5), 271-277. 
  1. Culligan, P. J., Scherer, J., Dyer, K., Priestley, J. L., Guingon-White, G., Delvecchio, D., & Vangeli, M. (2010). A randomized clinical trial comparing pelvic floor muscle training to a Pilates exercise program for improving pelvic muscle strength. International urogynecology journal, 21(4), 401-408. 
  1. Gomes, C. S., Pedriali, F. R., Urbano, M. R., Moreira, E. H., Averbeck, M. A., & Almeida, S. H. M. (2018). The effects of Pilates method on pelvic floor muscle strength in patients with post-prostatectomy urinary incontinence: A randomized clinical trial. Neurourology         and urodynamics, 37(1), 346-353. 

10.Smith, K., & Smith, E. (2005). Integrating Pilates-based core strengthening into older adult fitness programs: implications for practice. Topics in Geriatric Rehabilitation, 21(1),   57-67. 


11.Critchley, D. J., Pierson, Z., & Battersby, G. (2011). Effect of pilates mat exercises and conventional exercise programmes on transversus abdominis and obliquus internus abdominis activity: pilot randomised trial. Manual therapy, 16(2), 183-189. 


12.Kloubec, J. A. (2010). Pilates for improvement of muscle endurance, flexibility, balance, and posture. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 24(3), 661-667. 


13.Miyamoto, G. C., Franco, K. F. M., van Dongen, J. M., dos Santos Franco, Y. R., de Oliveira, N. T. B., Amaral, D. D. V., … & Cabral, C. M. N. (2018). Different doses of   Pilates-based exercise therapy for chronic low back pain: a randomised controlled trial with economic evaluation. Br J Sports Med, 52(13), 859-868. 


14.Yamato, T. P., Maher, C. G., Saragiotto, B. T., Hancock, M. J., Ostelo, R. W., Cabral, C. M., … & Costa, L. O. (2015). Pilates for low back pain. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, (7). 


15.Byrnes, K., Wu, P. J., & Whillier, S. (2018). Is Pilates an effective rehabilitation tool? A systematic review. Journal of bodywork and movement therapies, 22(1), 192-202. 


16.Josephs, S., Pratt, M. L., Meadows, E. C., Thurmond, S., & Wagner, A. (2016). The effectiveness of Pilates on balance and falls in community-dwelling older adults. Journal   of bodywork and movement therapies, 20(4), 815-823. 


17.Vieira, N. D., Testa, D., Ruas, P. C., de Fátima Salvini, T., Catai, A. M., & Melo, R. C. (2017). The effects of 12 weeks Pilates-inspired exercise training on functional performance in older women: A randomized clinical trial. Journal of bodywork and            movement therapies, 21(2), 251-258. 


18.Laws, A., Williams, S., & Wilson, C. (2017). The Effect of Clinical Pilates on Functional Movement in Recreational Runners. International journal of sports medicine, 38(10), 776-780. 


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