Clinical Pilates are a form of strength-training exercise that is supervised by a medical professional, such as a physical therapist or physiotherapist. The exercises are often used in rehabilitation settings for patients who are recovering from a musculoskeletal injury or surgery. Like regular Pilates, clinical Pilates largely utilizes one's own body weight or Pilates-specific equipment, such as balls, resistance bands, or reformer machines. The exercises are often taught one-on-one, instead of in a group-class setting.
The concept of clinical Pilates has existed since the 1990s. As with regular Pilates, the clinical version is focused on building one's core strength, resulting in greater balance, stability, and muscle tone. Pilates in a supervised clinical setting are often recommended for those with injuries to the back or neck muscles as strengthening the core muscles can help alleviate these injuries and prevent future problems. It is also utilized for those with chronic headaches, which often result from poor posture. Practicing Pilates can help improve one's posture and spinal alignment.
The difference between regular Pilates, performed in a gym, and clinical Pilates is that the clinical version involves an initial assessment by a healthcare professional, such as a physical therapist. The patient reports any particular target problems that he or she may have, or the therapist may already be aware of pre-existing problem areas following a surgery or extensive injury. The clinical Pilates program is then tailored to meet the patient's specific needs. The exercises are closely monitored to ensure that positive progress is being made and that the injury or problem area is not being exacerbated by practicing Pilates.
In addition to using one's own body weight, various pieces of equipment may be used in the application of clinical Pilates. Much like gym-based Pilates, clinical exercises can include the use of a stability ball or resistance bands. These help improve balance, strength, and flexibility. The reformer machine, a piece of equipment with various resistance bands and a sliding base, may also be used, especially to strengthen certain parts of the body, such as the legs or shoulders.
Pregnant women or women who have recently had children often use clinical Pilates as a way to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles. The pelvic floor is a web of muscles and tissue that supports the bladder, intestines, and the uterus. Strengthening the pelvic floor can decrease incontinence, a common problem following childbirth. Pregnant women can also benefit from alleviation of lower-back pain through practicing Pilates.