We’re asked this frequently and there are BIG differences.
The Pilates you do in your typical gym or fitness studio is led by instructors with varying levels of education and training. While some may be knowledgeable, many may have a limited understanding of the mechanisms at play with injuries, or the correct rehabilitation of them. As a result you can be attending a Pilates class, thinking you have perfect “form” yet still suffer pain either during or after the class.
Clinical or Physiotherapy-led Pilates incorporates valid research carried out by rehabilitation professionals and since the 1990s they have melded the core stability principles (put forward by Joseph Pilates in the 1920s) with the current research on injury and rehabilitation.
So what are the real differences in practice?
- Typical Pilates in a gym is very bendy, and includes low repetitions and end of range stretching manoeuvres that are often heavier loading. There is no evidence for its rehabilitation of low-back pain.
- Clinical or Physio-led Pilates starts with control achieved in basic positions before progressing, involving higher repetitions of low loading exercises. The basis for these principles IS backed by research.
“Which one is for me?” You may ask.
If you are uninjured and have no history of back or neck injury then you may respond fine to traditional Pilates classes. It may be a good way to condition you and maintain joint flexibility.
If you’re on the injury recovery trail or have had significant back, neck, pelvic or groin injuries in the past (anything over a week’s recovery IS significant) you need the more specific Clinical Physio-led Pilates regime to help assist in your recovery and avoid long-term issues.
If you have tried typical Pilates with poor results then it is time to try the Physio-led version and see what the hype is all about. It really does work!