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Why Pilates training for physiotherapists is becoming increasingly popular

Why Pilates training for physiotherapists is becom
Photo: Why Pilates training for physiotherapists is becoming increasingly popular
An increasing number of physiotherapists are becoming trained Pilates instructors, in order to offer clients a more comprehensive and holistic treatment program.

As a Master Trainer of the Australian Physiotherapy and Pilates Institute, physiotherapist, Kathryn Anderson, has been able to use more effectively kickstart multiple diverse and varied injury rehabilitation programs.

“I’ve also learnt that using Pilates principles in higher level rehabilitation and sports rehab helps to improve muscle activation and effectiveness in training,” says Ms Anderson.

“Clinical Pilates is a great way of getting clients moving after they’ve had an injury, since it can begin with very low load and in a tailored way.

“In fact, the Pilates machines such the reformer, the Cadillac, and the Wunda chair can even get people exercising without the effect of gravity, so it becomes a really useful tool.”
Pilates is a method of exercise derived by a man named Joseph Pilates in the 1920s.

After studying a combination of yoga, strength training, mindfulness, and dance, Pilates concluded that strength and power came from the core, which underpins the way Pialtes is taught.

“The wonderful thing about Pilates that it’s an enjoyable and fun form of exercise, so it’s a great way of accessing exercise without having to fear getting too sweaty or loading your body too quickly.

“However, as well as just the movement part of it, Joseph Pilates applied eight principles to his original method, which guides the teaching process.

“This includes breathing and concentration, so Pilates can also be used as a way of improving these.”

Being so accessible, Pilates can benefit a range of different people, says Ms Anderson.

“Traditional Pilates, as was created by Joseph Pilates, was a method largely used in the dance world, which means you need lots of flexibility and strength to perform well.

“However, over the years, modified versions of Pilates have been created, such as Clinical Pilates, which can be applied to everyone from children through to the elderly.”

According to Ms Anderson, physiotherapists usually use two tools to treat clients -  passive treatment, such as mobilisation, massage and dry needling, and active treatment, which means exercise.

“Pilates is a form of exercise which many physios use as the entry point into the active, or rehabilitation phase,” says Ms Anderson.

“Because Pilates specifically retrains the core, its principles can often be used to help conditions such as lower back pain, or neck pain.”

A physiotherapist who has an undergraduate or masters degree in injury management, combined with Pilates training, results in qualifications specifically designed to consider a person’s injury or medical history, says Ms Anderson.

“Therefore, if you have an injury or a medical history that might affect your ability to exercise, I’d recommend seeing a physiotherapist to commence your Pilates practice.

“Pilates Instructors without physio training have been taught with exercise as the primary focus, so generally Pilates Instructors tend to approach the practice from a strength, fitness and movement point of view. Both are great in the right situations.”

In other words, not all Pilates methods are created equal, and different styles will suit different conditions.

While Joseph Pilates’ original method, often referred to as traditional Pilates, uses dance and yoga principles, these generally require a greater amount of muscle flexibility and control to perform safely.

Over the last 20 years, Clinical Pilates has gained traction, and has been increasingly used by physiotherapists in injury rehabilitation settings.

“This beings at a more fundamental level but in recent times, Pilates fusions such as Yogalates (a mix of yoga and Pilates) and Barrelates (a mix of Barre’/ballet and Pilates) have evolved.”

According to Ms Anderson, having Pilates training as a physiotherapist helps your client to know that you have effective training in movement, beyond the primary physiotherapy degree.

In addition, Pilates training means movement analysis is more specific, an increasingly common requirement by clients seeking injury rehabilitation treatment.

“In our movement studio at Viva Physiotherapy, we run a combination of Pilates, Yoga, Rehabilitation (called Clinical Movement), Strengthening and Running Conditioning classes, however all classes are underpinned by the principles of Pilates, especially engaging the core.

“Our studio is one part of the way we help people recover, and in combination with manual therapy and education, we find it an effective way to get people moving well.

“Our purpose at Viva is to empower through movement, so Pilates really encapsulates this.”

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Nicole Madigan

Nicole Madigan is a widely published journalist with more than 15 years experience in the media and communications industries.

Specialising in health, business, property and finance, Nicole writes regularly for numerous high-profile newspapers, magazines and online publications.

Before moving into freelance writing almost a decade ago, Nicole was an on-air reporter with Channel Nine and a newspaper journalist with News Limited.

Nicole is also the Director of content and communications agency Stella Communications (www.stellacomms.com) and a children's author.