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Clinical Pilates & the Athlete: More than just the Core!

Clinical Pilates is well known for its use by physiotherapists in injury rehabilitation, especially for lower back pain. The long-accepted, traditional theory is that Pilates helps to engage the “core muscles”, thereby increasing core stability. Clinical Pilates however is much more versatile than solely a means of increasing abdominal strength. As clinicians, we often utilise Clinical Pilates to aid lumbopelvic control, improve flexibility and movement efficiency, correct movement dysfunctions after injury and improve muscular endurance and strength. For these reasons, Clinical Pilates can be benefit a range of athletes not only in injury rehabilitation and prevention, but also from a performance aspect.

The key to any Clinical Pilates program is to ensure it is individualised and specifically targeted towards the athlete’s goals. Certain sports require specific movement requirements, and this should be considered in the program.  For example, a tennis player with lower back pain on forehand, may need to improve upper back (thoracic) rotation and hip mobility to prevent increased loading through the lumber spine. Therefore, rotational exercises of the hip and upper back aimed at enhancing flexibility, strength and control may be included, rather than just “core stability” work. The benefits of this increasing rotational range of movement can help reduce injury whilst also improving hitting technique and performance.

Clinical Pilates can also be used to assist athletes such as Australian Rules football players with improved performance in other aspects of their training. The Clinical Pilates program is  not a substitute for gym or conditioning work, but is complementary – with the aim of improving movement control and awareness.  For example, an athlete might be able to lift with better technique in the gym if they have better lumbopelvic control.  Alternatively, some athletes find the dynamic flexibility component of Clinical Pilates important in their post training recovery.  Improving movement efficiency or having improved gluteal function may also optimize a player’s ability to run, jump and land with reduced risk of injury when fatigued.

In summary, Clinical Pilates has many benefits for athletes – regardless of your sport.  Our Clinical Pilates practitioners at OPSMC can work with you to tailor a program for injury rehabilitation, prevention, post training recovery, increasing flexibility or control, or general body maintenance.  If you think Clinical Pilates could help achieve any of your activity or sporting goals, we are more than happy to assist you.

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