What is Clinical Pilates?
Clinical Pilates is a Physiotherapy led functional and dynamic exercise programme focused on retraining normal patterns of movement from a central stable core. This rehabilitation method is particularly effective in correcting the biomechanical imbalances around the hip, lumbar spine and pelvis through exercises that isolate the proximal hip and core muscles. Strengthening these deep stability muscles can help to correct muscle imbalance and improve hip joint function.
Clinical Pilates is different to other physiotherapy rehabilitation exercises because it concentrates specifically on “centering” which refers to activating the deep abdominal muscles, back muscles and pelvic floor in unison, while keeping the lower back in a neutral spine position. This restores the natural curves of the spine and improves body awareness by training the centre to remain active throughout the duration of the Pilates movements.
The Clinical Pilates concept of strength training is that there are different components which make up a functional core:-
(Transversus Abdominus, Pelvic Floor, Multifidus, Diaphragm)
(Latissimus Dorsi, Serratus Anterior, Obliques, Rectus Abdominus, Quadratus Lumborum, Gluteals, Thoroco-lumbar fascia)
Centering activates the supportive core. The controlled movements activate the strength core and the movements incorporate actions of the extremities which facilitates an effective method of core strengthening.
Alongside functional core strengthening, Clinical Pilates exercises also follow the APPI (Australian Physiotherapy & Pilates Institute) principles which include:-
- Flowing movement
- Integrated movement patterns
These are all aspects which make Clinical Pilates a valuable method of strengthening.
Why Clinical Pilates for hip rehabilitation?
Every exercise in the Clinical Pilates repertoire has a particular movement focus. For example, some exercises focus on controlled strength, rotary stability, abdominal strengthening, gluteal strengthening or limb dissociation. These concentrated movements are the foundation of early stage rehabilitation from hip injury or surgery, allowing Physiotherapists to prescribe patient-centred, individualised Pilates exercises.
Basic level Clinical Pilates exercises are often included in a thorough Physiotherapy assessment. These movements allow Physiotherapists to identify biomechanical imbalances and movement dysfunction. This facilitates the prescription of specific exercises to correct movement dysfunction and reduce hip symptoms to aid recovery.
Clinical Pilates can also help to prevent hip injury. . .
Commonly Clinical Pilates is used as a rehabilitation method in Physiotherapy for hip pain, hip dysfunction or following hip surgery. However, it is also a popular and effective method of injury prevention or prehabilitation.
Regular participation in Clinical Pilates classes will maintain and continually improve strength around the proximal hip and core muscles. This means the development of muscle imbalance, movement dysfunction or overloading leading to hip pain are less likely.
This is particularly relevant for the sporting or athletic population. A recent research study proved that a 6 week course of Clinical Pilates classes can improve functional movement and reduce the risk of injury in recreational runners (Laws et al, 2017).
Additional benefits of Clinical Pilates
Alongside improvements in core stability, flexibility and strength, Clinical Pilates has other health benefits including stress management, breathing control and relaxation.
Clinical Pilates exercises can be performed in 1:1 sessions or small group classes led by an experienced and fully qualified Physiotherapist to aid recovery from hip surgery or injury.