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Central Performance’s CLINICAL PILATES

What is Clinical Pilates and how can it help me?

Up to 80% of Australians will experience back pain at some stage in their lives, and 10% will experience significant disability as a result.

Strength-training-womenHere at Central Performance, it is a top priority to help those of you suffering from back pain. We want to help you improve your range of movement, core stability and movement patterns, as well as help you understand more about your back pain. Our newest initiative to achieve this goal is our Clinical Pilates program, run by physiotherapist, Helen Hathaway.

What is Clinical Pilates and how is different to regular Pilates classes?

Clinical Pilates is exercise rehabilitation based around posture, core/central stability, balance, control and breathing. For each person with lower back pain, there will be a very different history of how the injury started, distinctive traumas and a wide variety of factors that can aggravate or ease the pain. It is for this reason that specific INDIVIDUALISED programs are vital for improving lower back pain by correcting the underlying instability, weakness and poor motor control. New research has found that exercises that are distinctly targeted to a patient and their individual needs have a strong correlation with improved symptoms, both immediately after exercise and over a three month period.

Clinical Pilates incorporates a combination of exercises performed on the mat, with theraband and on the Pilates specific equipment – the reformer, Wunda chair and the barrel.

Why do I need Clinical Pilates?

If you have suffered or are suffering from lower back pain you may recognise the feelings of weakness or instability that can correspond with the pain. This occurs because of our pain inhibition reflex – this is when our brain recognises pain signals from the lower back and subsequently reduces the activity of the lower back and core muscles. These muscles do not then automatically switch back to on to normal full strength after the episode of pain passes and so we are then left with a weak spot. This increases the risk of recurrence or continuing pain.

Research shows that there is a 80% risk of recurrence within 1 year after an episode of lower back pain. This risk can be reduced by 65% with a directionally specific core re-training program such as Clinical Pilates.

Previous trends in core training were to consciously cue the transversus abdominus and pelvic floor muscles prior to and during movement. This means you were instructed to think about contracting your core muscles prior during exercises. More recent research has found that this is ineffective because the messages from the brain to the muscles take too long to process and the muscles do not activate correctly. Clinical Pilates therefore does not focus on consciously cueing the muscles, rather uses specific targeted exercises that stimulate the stabilising muscles to fire. Better results are found with this method.

Types of lower back pain that Clinical Pilates can help improve:
  • Disc bulges
  • Facet joint injuries
  • Pelvic problems, weak core/pelvic floor post-partum
  • Spondylolisthesis
  • Degeneration/osteoarthritis
  • Sciatica (nerve root compromise)
  • Sacroiliac joint (SIJ) dysfunctions
  • Congenital spinal problems


Clinical Pilates at Central Performance

Structure of Clinical Pilates

Clinical Pilates at Central Performance will start off on a 1-on-1 basis for at least the first four sessions. This allows you to familiarize yourself with the Pilates equipment and the nature of the exercises and to allow complete attention from Helen, the treating physiotherapist. This program is known at Central Performance as the QuickStart program, which will then give you baseline ability level to allow you to filter into a small group setting if you’d prefer or continue with 1-on-1 sessions. Even in a group environment, you will each be doing your own individualised program, rather than generic exercises. The group numbers are kept low, with a maximum of 4 people per group, to enable considerable individual attention and feedback, while also encompassing a great social atmosphere.

The first session is a 1 on 1 appointment involving:

  • a thorough injury history
  • a discussion of your goals
  • assessment of range of motion and relevant special tests
  • stability tests – eg. single leg squats, heel raises, hopping, balance tests
  • begin a sequence of specific exercises
  • reassessment of stability tests

Following your initial Clinical Pilates appointment, Helen will develop a specific program for your needs, which will continue to progress as your core stability and confidence improves. Clients who are already on our Clinical Pilates program have achieved excellent results, including reduced lower back pain, as well as improved confidence in their movement patterns and strength.

The Clinical Pilates program at Central Performance is run by certified Clinical Pilates instructor and physiotherapist, Helen Hathaway. Helen has been trained by DMA Clinical Pilates, the experts in Pilates education within Australia and worldwide over the last 25 years. She has vast experience in treating lower back pain and dysfunction from her years in private practice and with elite sporting teams. Please feel free to email Helen if you are interested in participating in Clinical Pilates at Central Performance.

Bookings Details:

1-on-1s: Can be booked like regular physiotherapy appointments at any time that suits. Sessions are 40minutes long.

Groups: Tuesday 5pm, Wednesday 5:30pm, Thursday 7:15am. More groups are being formed at regular intervals so please let us know if you have requests for times.


Central Physio & Performance Fitness – 418A Elizabeth St, Surry Hills


1-on-1s: $89 per session – able to claim on the spot with your private health fund

Groups: $45 per session – able to claim with health fund at the end of a course


Call +61 2 9280 2322 to speak with our friendly staff and book a QuickStart Inititial Appointment, or email helen@centralperformance.com.au.

Call us on +61 2 9280 2322 or email us.