Clinical Pilates

Kelly Vanderboom
Written by Kelly Vanderboom

Why pilates can be a fantastic rehabilitation tool to stay active longer

Joseph Pilates, the creator of Pilates, originally worked with many dancers and individuals that were able to progress through the whole repertoire of challenging exercises. However, in the modern day Pilates has gained a reputation for working with a wider range of clientele, especially those with injuries and pain. We at Body Fit Solutions, Witney, Oxfordshire pride ourselves in working successfully with clients who have been referred to us by physiotherapists, osteopaths and chiropractors. Usually their treatment plan has run its course and they desire the next step in gaining strength and stability in their bodies.

Pilates can be a great middle ground between manual therapies and traditional fitness or sport. Many clients seeking treatment for an injury may not be strong enough to attend a traditional gym or exercise class right away. Instead they need an individualized program of movement therapy to regain better motor control. The apparatus, designed by Joseph Pilates and adapted over the years, can manipulate spring resistance and multidirectional positioning to control and support movement and regain balance in a body.

Many exercises given in the clinical setting have traditionally been limited to simple stretches and deep core activation done on a mat. Saying this, some rehabilitation practitioners have sports therapy backgrounds and are skilled to train clients with more functional moves. This tends to be limited to the sporting community and those who are already in a good level of fitness prior to the injury. For the rest of us, the Pilates apparatus can allow clients of all levels to move more functionally to enable a more active life.

We have recently designed our Gentle Pilates and Balance program to work in this way with a focus to keep clients active longer. We guide groups of 4-5 through individual programs that are designed to restore alignment, core strength, stability of the pelvis and spine and develop better motor control. Recruitment of the deep stabilizers is key in the first phase of rehabilitation and working in small groups allows clients to understand their bodies and feel safe. We work with clients 16yrs-older age (have clients 85 years old!) and are sensitive to their individual needs. We work safely in weight bearing for those with osteopenia and osteoporosis, we modify positions for those with scoliosis and other spinal pathologies, and understand what exercises are a better fit for what posture type.

Our program offers the ability for those who cannot afford personal training and who may get lost in a large class the ability to restore their bodies to a healthy state and feel stronger with less pain. The industry seems obsessed with weight loss and fitness and has forgotten about those who suffer from pain on a daily basis and ironically who often got the pain in the first place from these very same practices.

The fitness world often criticizes the pilates world for not being functional enough and performing many moves lying on the back. However the use of the modern Pilates apparatus allows such a wide range of movement that cannot be mimicked anywhere else and the ability to manipulate the environment around the client for the best results.