What is Pilates?
Pilates is a popular exercise system developed by Joseph Pilates in the 1920’s to improve strength, flexibility and stability of key muscles in the body. The focus is on correct core activation, isolation of stabilizing muscles and joint stability.
Who benefits from doing Pilates?
Pilates has commonly been stereotyped as only for women. However, all of us would benefit from doing regular Pilates. Everyone needs stability for maintaining good posture (especially those working in desk jobs!), preventing or managing injuries both acute and chronic, as well as improving performance in our chosen sport.
Research has found that Clinical Pilates is effective in reducing pain and disability in several musculoskeletal conditions including low back pain, neck pain and ankylosing spondylosis (a type of arthritis).
What is the difference between Clinical Pilates and Pilates at the gym?
Pilates classes at the gym, run by Pilates instructors, often have 20-25 clients and are a great source of global strengthening and superficial core work. Clinical Pilates classes are run by Physiotherapists for smaller numbers of clients, normally 5-6. This allows closer personalised attention to ensure correct technique and modification of exercises to tailor a program to an individual’s needs. Clinical Pilates is more beneficial for enhancing your deep core activation as well as better for managing specific injuries. If you are new to Pilates, it is recommended to start with a Clinical Pilates program.
What do we REALLY mean by activating your ‘core’?
The ‘core’ is complex. It involves two groups of muscles, one working to stabilise the spine while the other muscles create movement. It is these principles of core activation that underlie the core program in Clinical Pilates.
Why the diaphragm? The diaphragm not only controls our breathing but is directly involved in regulating our abdominal pressure. If we hold our breath, we increase the pressure in our abdomen, providing stabilisation for the lumbar spine. However, this is not practical, as we can’t hold our breath forever! Therefore, we must be able to activate our other deep core muscles to allow relaxed breathing.
Therefore, you may have the misconception that your core is strong because you do lots of ab work at the gym, which is not necessarily the case. The abs can be strong without the deeper core activating correctly, predisposing you to injury.
What do we do in Clinical Pilates at BeachLife Physio?
Our physios run private or two-on-one reformer classes, as well as small group mat work classes, with a maximum of five people.
A reformer is a piece of Pilates equipment that uses springs to provide resistance. The reformer can be used in many positions to work specific muscle groups as well as training the body to maintain a neutral position.
Mat classes mostly use body weight resistance in a wide variety of functional positions to target specific muscle groups. We use different pieces of equipment to further challenge stability and specific muscles. These classes focus on core activation, pelvic stability, posture and balance. It is more difficult to maintain neutral spine in mat work, and for this reason we recommend that beginners ad those with current pain start with reformer classes. Classes are tailored to your individual needs and an exercise program will be developed by a Physiotherapist to focus on YOU!
If you are interested in starting Pilates, please do not hesitate to contact us to discuss what class options would suit you best.
Call us on 9970 7982, or alternatively book online at beachlifephysio.com.
Cruz-Díaz, D., Martínez-Amat, A., Osuna-Pérez, M.C., De la Torre-Cruz, M.J., Hita-Contreras F. (2016). Short- and long-term effects of a six-week clinical Pilates program in addition to physical therapy on postmenopausal women with chronic low back pain: a randomized controlled trial. Disability Rehabilitation, 38 (13):1300-8.
Rydeard, R., Leger, A. and Smith D. (2006). Pilates- Based Therapeutic Exercise: Effect on Subjects With Nonspecific Chronic Low Back Pain and Functional Disability: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy, 36(7):472-84.
Wells, C., Kolt, G., Marshall, P., Hill, B. and Bialocerkowski A. (2014). The Effectiveness of Pilates Exercise in People with Chronic Low Back Pain: A Systematic Review. PLOS One, 9(7).