Clinical Pilates at Sports Lab

Mike Fielding is Sports Lab’s Clinical Pilates Instructor/Physiotherapist working at Drummoyne and Alexandria.

Mike is a UK-trained Physiotherapist with 18 years clinical experience, who has been teaching Modified Pilates for 14 years. Mike also works for the APPI (Australian Pilates and Physiotherapy institute) teaching post-graduate courses across Australia.

What is Modified Pilates?
It is a form of dynamic retraining and includes specific exercises to improve spinal mobility, flexibility of the trunk and lower limbs, body awareness and postural awareness, which are key factors in aiding and preventing lower back pain (LBP), and a variety of other musculoskeletal conditions.
The APPI Pilates method consists of a series of progressive Matwork and Equipment based exercises that employ the principles of specific spinal stabilization and pelvic locomotor slings which have had lots of positive studies to support their effectiveness.

How does Pilates at Sports Lab work?
Mike will personally assess the needs of each client wanting to participate in Pilates, looking at their movement patterns, range of motion, and taking into account their specific functional needs. For example, an office worker with neck pain and poor sitting posture has different functional goals and therefore requires different exercises than a footy player with sub-optimal hip and knee mechanics.

The Pilates pathway is as follows:
• Everybody has a 1 to 1 assessment to establish realistic and specific goals and to introduce the basic body set up and learn the specific motor skill required to engage their deep core muscles or ‘centre’.
• Those with poor body awareness or more irritable symptoms will require further 1:1 sessions, however the majority will then enter a semi private (1:4) group session with individualized exercises to progress toward a specific functional goal.
This way people can be of differing abilities and have completely different goals and still share a semi private group session, in a more cost effective way.
• There is also the ability to attend Matwork Classes (max 4 at Drummoyne and 8 at Alexandria) and soon to come Reformer Classes (Alexandria only, max 4).
These classes tend to work best for clients that don’t have major specific goals but just want to maintain good body awareness and optimal movement patterns.

Who can do Pilates?
Virtually anyone can benefit from Pilates.
Clients need to be aware of their body set up and core muscles, but this can be taught in a 1 to 1 session.
A recent study by Stolze et al (2012) showed that the most likely patients to benefit have at least 1 of these clinical factors:
1) Total trunk flexion range of motion of 70 deg or less (stiff spine)
2) Duration of current symptoms of 6 months or less (not yet crossed over fully into chronic pain presentation)
3) No leg symptoms in the last week
4) Not obese
5) No hip pathology presentation with very reduced ROM

If 1 or more of the above is present then there is 54 percent chance of a successful outcome, if 3 or more are present then this jumps up to 93 percent.


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Stolze, L. R., Allison, S. C., & Childs, J. D. (2012). Derivation of a preliminary clinical prediction rule for identifying a subgroup of patients with low back pain likely to benefit from Pilates-based exercise. journal of orthopaedic & sports physical therapy, 42(5), 425-436.