Clinical Pilates


Joseph Pilates, the founder of Pilates exercise, was a German living in Britain teaching self defense to Scotland Yard at the outbreak of WWI. As an “enemy alien”, he was detained and, due to his background in exercise, he was put to work in a hospital for wounded soldiers. It was in these hospitals working with the injured soldiers that the first form of Pilates exercises was performed. Pulleys and springs were attached to the bed frames for soldiers to exercise, rather than the usually recommended bed rest. It was later found that those soldiers who performed the exercises in the hospital were discharged faster and had better recovery outcomes than the soldiers who were prescribed bed rest.

What is Clinical Pilates?


There are various forms of Pilates that have developed over the past 100 years or so. Craig Phillips, an Australian ballet dancer, was exposed to Pilates during his time as a dancer. He later studied as a physiotherapist and was commissioned by the Australian Council to research Pilates and its benefits in a physiotherapy context. He combined the principles of Pilates with the current evidence from spinal stability research. This is what sets Clinical Pilates apart from other forms of Pilates, as it aims to treat a particular injury/pathology.

Clinical Pilates, through a thorough assessment, will identify a person’s individual directional preference of movement. This is important as individuals have differing directional preferences and is based on aggravating factors, ease of movements and the control and quality of movement, amongst other things. Research shows that exercises repeatedly performed in a specific preferred direction are great at reducing pain in people with acute, sub-acute and chronic low back pain.

A side of weakness is also established from the assessment and when this weakness and directional preference are identified can be targeted through an individual, tailored exercise program. Related to this, other research shows that when exercises are unmatched with the directional preference then those people have worse outcomes with back pain. It can therefore be argued that generic exercise programs are not the most suitable for people in pain.

The benefits of Clinical Pilates and what can be treated with It’s use are very diverse. Below are some of the benefits and the injuries that can be treated with Clinical Pilates:

• Increased proximal stability
• Reduced likelihood of re-injury
• Abnormal movement patterns that contribute to injury and pain
• Postural correction
• Builds lean muscle
• Back pain
• Shoulder pain
• Knee injuries
• Ankle injuries

If you have any questions about Clinical Pilates or would like to book in to see one of our physiotherapists, please do not hesitate to contact Get Active on 1300 8 9 10 11 or email us at

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