Clinical Pilates probably improves balance and strength in older adults. At Bevan Wilson, we believe it is useful in rehabilitation work.

At Bevan Wilson Physiotherapy Clinics, we are about to launch a new service, Clinical Pilates. This will consist of small groups, or one to one sessions becoming available to book.

To enlighten you as to the value of Clinical Pilates, this blog gives some insight into the evidence base for the exercises, and how it can benefit people.



Clinical Pilates is a form of Pilates that focuses on posture, core strengthening, focus, balance, control, strength, breathing, and flexibility. It is often used in combination with physiotherapy to help you recover from injuries or injuries after surgery.

This type of Pilates is a rehabilitation form of treatment, focusing on restoring normal movement, posture and muscle balances within the body. The focus will also be on strengthen surrounding muscles and posture to offload pressure on the spine and prevent this stiffness and pain recurring.

Clinical Pilates is often used in conjunction with physiotherapy as a means of treating a variety of injuries, particularly those of the neck and back, hence Bevan Wilson Physiotherapy Clinics offering the service.

Mat Pilates is a form of exercise that only requires a mat, or minimal equipment, such as rubber bands and Swiss balls. It aims to strengthen the core muscles. It also focuses on increased flexibility and balance.

Pilates has been gaining popularity, and the 2005 UK national standard for Pilates ensures teachers are sufficiently skilled. Pilates teachers must have at least Level 3 to be on the UK Register of Exercise Professionals. It is often an additional skill set that physiotherapists gain, or already have in place before they study to become qualified physiotherapists.


                         “DoH guidelines recommend that over 65’s have at least 150 mins moderate activity each week”  

In the UK, 11.8 million people are aged 65 or older, with numbers increasing each year. Maintaining physical fitness in this age group is of paramount importance for the prevention of falls, and cardiovascular disease, but also to ensure mental wellbeing.

The evidence of the effectiveness of mat based Pilates is rather narrow presently. However, the research, at present, shows Mat Pilates gave a large improvement in all the following elements, compared to no exercise:

Dynamic balance  

Lower limb muscle strength  

Lower body flexibility

Cardiorespiratory fitness





What does current guidance say on this issue?

Department of Health 2011 guidelines recommend adults aged 65 or more to be active daily, adding up to at least 150 minutes of moderate activity per week. They also recommend strength training on at least two days a week. If at risk of falls, balance training, such as tai chi or yoga, should be incorporated. There is no guidance on Pilates for older people.

NICE 2008 guidelines on mental wellbeing in the over 65s recommends tailored physical activity programmes, delivered by physiotherapists, or fitness instructors. This includes strength, resistance, toning and stretching exercises, dancing, walking and swimming.

What are the implications?

It does not seem so surprising that Pilates should be better than no exercise for strength, balance and flexibility. The evidence has quality limitations, but this is a difficult area to research without bias, and the apparent beneficial effect is substantial and consistent across outcomes.

Exercise referral schemes are only funded for inactive people who have existing health conditions or are at increased risk of ill health. However, mat Pilates is often available outside this service from trained instructors at gyms, and physiotherapists, for example.

Pilates can be tailored to individual capabilities, making it an acceptable option for older adults. Once techniques have been learnt, it may be possible to practice at home.

We hope this has been informative and motivates some of you into seeking a Pilates class near you.

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All pictures provided by Karen Love Clinical Pilates and Spinal Physiotherapist Specialist, one of our colleagues in the new service.

If you would like to know more about the Bevan Wilson Clinical Pilates, please do email, or call us, and w will be delighted to give you more information.

                                                      Keep supple!


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