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What difference is there between clinical pilates and pilates?

What is Clinical Pilates?

It is based on the original Pilates method which was developed by Joseph Pilates in the early 20th century. It is a form of exercise that focuses on correct posture, core stability, balance, control, strength, flexibility, and breathing. The advantage  is that you work on muscle control rather than strength, with the exercises working muscle groups in patterns that are functional. There is strong evidence in the literature to support the use of therapeutic exercises, including pilates for many different conditions, particularly in low back pain.

Difference between normal and Clinical Pilates:

As Physiotherapists we often get asked “What is the difference between Clinical and regular Pilates?”. While both types may use either equipment or mat work, there are several importance differences between the styles.

  • Pilates

Gym instructors run the the classes as fitness classes. The exercises are not tailored to meet the specific needs of the client and there are often many people in a class. This means that it is difficult for the instructor to ensure proper technique or to give options for specific conditions, making it inappropriate for people with injuries or special requirements. Doing the wrong exercise can be detrimental and could make your low back condition worse.

  • Clinical Pilates

Clinical Pilates on the other hand, is run by qualified physiotherapists or exercise physiologists who have underwent training of the human body and who specialise in injury management and prevention. Prior to participating in a class you will be thoroughly assessed by an experienced trained physiotherapist. This will ensure that all your exercises are tailored to your specific needs. This is particularly important for anyone with a history of injuries, as certain exercises may aggravate particular conditions if not completed correctly. During a clinical pilates class your Physiotherapist will constantly monitor your technique and, where necessary, progress your exercises.

Who can do clinical Pilates?

It is appropriate for all age groups, from kids, to pregnant women and the elderly.

As the exercises are tailored to the individual your physiotherapist can make your program as challenging or gentle as it needs to be to achieve the best outcomes for you.

You don’t need to have an injury to attend, many clients come to keep fit and healthy, enjoying the personalized attention that a small class size allows. It gives them the peace of mind to know that they are performing the exercises correctly under supervision.

People who would benefit from clinical Pilates:

  • Back, neck or shoulder pain
  • Pelvic or hip pain
  • Athletes looking to improve their technique e.g. golfers, gymnasts, dancers, runners
  • Post orthopaedic surgery
  • Pre and post-natal
  • Pelvic floor retraining
  • Postural and flexibility issues
  • General conditioning, toning and fitness

Total Physiocare offers both individual and small group classes. All classes run by qualified trained Physiotherapists. Enquire today about getting started!

Total Physiocare also has a 6 week better back program which is designed to individually personalise your program. Find out more about this program here.

Blog post by Claire De Vos


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Do you have issues with incontinence?

Women’s Health and Incontinence Physiotherapy

Women’s health and incontinence physiotherapy is a specialty of physiotherapy that focuses on incontinence and conditions specific to women in particular. Services range from antenatal/post-natal education and exercise, as well as musculoskeletal treatment for particular conditions such as prolapse. Pelvic floor muscle weakness in particular has been linked to many women’s health conditions.

What is the Pelvic Floor?

The pelvic floor refers to the group of muscles that support the pelvic organs (the bowel, bladder and uterus). They stretch from the front of your pubic bone to the back of your tailbone.

From Continence Foundation Australia

The pelvic floor has three main functions:

  1. Support the pelvic organs

Pelvic muscle damage or weakness can lead to the pelvic organs being poorly supported. In severe cases, prolapse can occur, where the pelvic organ slips further down than it is meant to be, sometimes even external to the body.

  1. Allowing proper continence of the bowel and bladder

In order to allow proper continence, the pelvic floor muscles must be able to contract and relax appropriately. If these muscles are unable to relax, bowel and bladder incontinence may result. Alternatively, if these muscles are too active, constipation and painful urination can occur.

  1. Working with the other ‘core’ muscles to stabilise the spine

As well as supporting the pelvic organs, the pelvic floor forms the base of the core, while the diaphragm forms the roof and the deep spinal/abdominal muscles form the walls. For our core stability to be most effective, these muscle groups need to work effectively together. Dysfunction with the pelvic floor muscles lead to decreased core stability, which can lead to back pain and injury.

Why are Pelvic Floor exercises important?

Pelvic floor exercises are crucial to strengthening the pelvic floor muscles and limiting the conditions associated with weak pelvic floor muscles. Urinary incontinence occurs in over one third of women and up to 13% of men. Pelvic floor muscle training has been shown to eliminate completely or reduce episodes of urinary incontinence. Pelvic floor exercises can also reduce prolapse symptoms and limit the development of associated conditions. Finally, we rely on our core stability every day during activities such as walking, lifting objects – in fact, even while you are sitting down reading this article! Any imbalance in our core muscles can have widespread effects throughout the body, so it is vital to make sure your pelvic floor is working properly.

What are the symptoms of Pelvic Floor dysfunction?

There are many symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction. Common symptoms include:

  • Leaking small amounts of urine when coughing, sneezing, laughing or running
  • A frequent need to urinate
  • Feeling of incomplete emptying with urinating or with bowel movements
  • Constipation, straining, pain with bowel movements
  • Unexplained backache
  • Pain for women during intercourse
  • Reduced sensation in the vagina

How does Pelvic Floor dysfunction affect men?

Men experience similar symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction, such as stress incontinence, constipation, backache and incomplete bladder emptying. Men are commonly affected by pelvic floor dysfunction after prostate surgery and abdominal surgery. Following prostate surgery in particular, men can experience bladder issues for 6-12 months afterwards. It is particularly important for men undergoing prostate surgery to commence pelvic floor muscle training exercises. Pelvic floor muscle training can speed up the recovery process and reduce symptoms of incontinence.

From Continence Foundation Australia

How can I strengthen my Pelvic Floor muscles?

There are many different exercises available for men and women to strengthen their pelvic floor, depending on what the underlying issue is – be it core weakness, incontinence or even prolapse. For further information, book in to see our Continence and Women’s Health Physiotherapist today for a full assessment and tailored exercise program.

Men’s & Women’s Health and Continence Physiotherapy assessments are available at our Footscray, Camberwell and Heidelberg clinics.

Where can I find further information?

Further information can be found from the following websites:

The Continence Foundation of Australia

Pelvic Floor – Better Health Channel

Pelvic Floor – Information for Men

Pelvic Floor First

This post was compiled by our Physiotherapist Simone