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Clinical 1-1 Pilates and Back Pain

Starter question for 10 points - what is Clinical Pilates?

Skip the next paragraph if you are already au fait with what pilates is!

Pilates, (named after Joseph Pilates) uses the six principles of Centering; Concentration; Breath; Control; Precision and flow and applies them to all movement. There is a classical repertoire of movements (or exercises if you prefer) and these are practiced to develop our mobility, our stability and strength. Quite frankly, who doesn’t need a bit of that? The ‘original’ sequence of moves was devised to be practiced on the floor, but in order to help individuals learn to perform the movements, various bits of equipment were designed facilitate the process. Equipment such as the reformer, which is a sliding carriage with resistance / assistance springs attached and the use of the humble ‘magic circle’. A circular ring that you press against for resistance.

We're very fortunate here to have 10 reformers, each with a tower at the end that you can attach numerous (yes, more) springs and tools to facilitate movement. Each reformer and tower is also paired with a ‘Garuda Sling’ which is a more recent creation by James D’Silva, inspired by pilates, yoga and dance movements. Along the classical pilates line, we also have the Cadillac, Spine Corrector, the Wünda Chair and Ladder Barrel. All of which enable us to provide a fully comprehensive facility for guiding individuals in their pilates practice.

So, how is clinical pilates different? Clinical Pilates uses the pilates method, movements and equipment to address your specific clinical requirements. Generally, this means that you have pain or a movement dysfunction somewhere that can be corrected, reduced and / or alleviated through motion and activity. You may also have heard the term ‘Pilates Therapy’ and these two are often used interchangeably!

Bonus Question 1 - What is causing your back pain?

Back pain can have many different causes such as, neural, skeletal or muscular, and all too often postural which can encompass all three. Frustratingly for many individuals, ‘non specific back pain’ is hard to manage because it can come and go, it can be acute (come on suddenly and be very painful) or chronic, when it is insidious and often gets progressively worse over time.

Bonus Question 2 - Can Clinical Pilates help?

In many circumstances, yes. Movement and postural imbalances can be addressed to bring mobility, stability and strength back to the dysfunctional muscles and joints that are causing you pain or discomfort. From the vast repertoire of pilates movements available to us, and through the application of the six pilates principles, we can ‘relearn’ how to provide our bodies with structural integrity and move our body in a way that will reduce and often eliminate our back pain. The equipment provides us with tools to support and challenge our movement in equal measure (!) and with your clinical therapist, you will be guided through the exercises that are specific to your needs. Of course you will need to practice these or variations of them that don’t need equipment on your own, and apply them in every day life in order for them to have maximum and long-term effect.

You don’t need to be referred by your GP, a physiotherapist or a consultant to start a course of clinical pilates. You can refer yourself. A full movement assessment is carried out with new clients. and the evaluation from that as well as your feedback throughout, shapes the clinical pilates sessions from there on.

At the Studio and Drummond Physiotherapy we are in the enviable position of working closely with qualified physio and sport rehabilitation therapists. If you feel that you’d like or need a clinical diagnosis or guidance prior to embarking on 1:1 clinical pilates sessions, of course there would be communication within the team to ensure that there is clarity on what is the best route forward for you.

Bonus Question 3 - Where and where can I find out more?

Very straightforward: give us a ring and ask to speak with one of the clinical pilates team or drop us an email to with your questions. Alternatively, just book in for your session!

We’ve also found clinical pilates to be particularly effective with clients addressing the following:

  • Returning to exercise after a break due to illness or surgery

  • Helping to condition the body to prepare for a surgical operation

  • Recovery and rehabilitation from injury

  • Introduction to movement and exercise for previously non-active individuals

  • Mobility and stability problems occurring as part of the ageing process

If you’ve found this page by accident or were reading out of general interest but now think that clinical pilates might be for you, please do get in touch.

Sources: End University / Popmaster Challenge on the subject of Clinical Pilates for Back Pain.

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