Continuum Physiotherapy
Address: 36 Bell Street, Heidelberg Heights
Phone: (03) 9455 1177
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Thomas Nemeth

Pilates: What is it? Would it help me? All you need to know.

What is Pilates?

Pilates was originally developed in the early 1900’s by Joseph Pilates. Original exercise principles centered around mindfulness, body awareness, core and movement control, and breathing (1, 2). Over the years, physiotherapists and other health professionals have adopted and evolved these principles for use in the rehabilitation setting, and used “clinical pilates” as a way to help treat a number of injuries and other pain conditions.

The two main methods of pilates include mat pilates, which is performed on a yoga or exercise mat on the ground, and equipment pilates, which is performed using various equipment like a pilates reformer or trapeze table (3). Clinical pilates in a rehabilitation setting usually involves a combination of both methods.

What is a Reformer?

Inspired by Joseph Pilates’ use of mattress springs to help injured bedridden comrades exercise during World War I, the pilates reformer was developed, which consists of a sliding platform on rollers, ropes, and springs that provide varying resistance (4). Exercises can then be performed in various positions, such as lying on the back, kneeling, side-lying, and standing. In line with the original principles of pilates, the main focus with reformer exercises is on breathing, core control, and quality of movement.

How can Reformer Pilates help?

Exercises on the pilates reformer are performed in the horizontal plane, which eliminates the influence of gravity (4). Exercising across gravity instead of against gravity means less load on the body’s joints, therefore making reformer exercise a useful place to start for those that have difficulty exercising in upright weight-bearing positions. Exercise difficulty can then be progressed in various ways, such as increasing the effect of gravity, increasing resistance, or reducing stability to increase core and body control demands.

As clinical pilates continues to grow in popularity, higher quality research into its effectiveness in treating various conditions is also growing, particularly with respect to pain and disability (5). Clinical pilates has been found to be beneficial for:

  • Chronic Low-Back Pain (6, 8)
  • Chronic Neck Pain (11)
  • Falls, Balance, & Falls Prevention (9, 10)
  • Pre- and Post-natal health (12)
  • Fibromyalgia (1)
  • Knee Osteoarthritis (13)
  • Multiple Sclerosis (7)
  • General Fitness and Weight-Loss (14)

How do I get involved?

At Continuum Physiotherapy we offer pilates sessions for our patient’s recovering from injuries or pain conditions. Additionally, we offer pilates sessions for those not recovering from an injury looking to improve their stability, strength and fitness. Our practitioner’s have many years of experience.

Prior to starting in our classes; we require a 1-on-1 initial pilates assessment to establish your individual needs and goals, and develop your individual program. This also gives you a chance, with guidance from your practitioner, on correct use of the reformer. Our classes are 45 minutes duration, and subsequent 1-on-1 reviews can be arranged as needed to update your program or review your goals.

Cost of sessions

1-on-1 Initial Pilates Assessment (45 minutes): $125

Clinical Pilates class (45 minutes): $50 per class

Clinical Pilates 10-Pack of classes: $400

You may be eligible for Private health insurance cover for both initial assessment and classes.

*costs above as at 1/7/2023

Speak to one of our physiotherapist’s by calling 9455 1177 if you would like to know more about our Pilates sessions at Continuum Physiotherapy or are interested in participating. Alternatively click on the link below to book an appointment.


  1. Caglayan, B. C., Calik, B. B., Kabul, E. G., & Karasu, U. (2023). Investigation of effectiveness of reformer pilates in individuals with fibromyalgia: A randomized controlled trial. Rheumatologia Clinica, 19, 18-25.
  2. Wells, C., Kolt, G. S., Marshall, P., & Bialocerkowski, A. (2014). The definition and application of Pilates exercise to treat people with chronic low back pain: a Delphi survey of Australian physical therapists. Physical therapy, 94(6), 792–805.
  3. Wells, C., Kolt, G. S., & Bialocerkowski, A. (2012). Defining Pilates exercise: a systematic review. Complementary therapies in medicine, 20(4), 253–262.
  4. Owsley, A. (2005). An Introduction to Clinical Pilates. Athletic Therapy Today, 10(4), 19-25.
  5. Byrnes, K., Wu, P. J., & Whillier, S. (2018). Is Pilates an effective rehabilitation tool? A systematic review. Journal of bodywork and movement therapies, 22(1), 192–202.
  6. Rydeard, R., Leger, A., & Smith, D. (2006). Pilates-based therapeutic exercise: effect on subjects with nonspecific chronic low back pain and functional disability: a randomized controlled trial. The Journal of orthopaedic and sports physical therapy, 36(7), 472–484.
  7. Rodríguez-Fuentes, G., Silveira-Pereira, L., Ferradáns-Rodríguez, P., & Campo-Prieto, P. (2022). Therapeutic Effects of the Pilates Method in Patients with Multiple Sclerosis: A Systematic Review. Journal of clinical medicine, 11(3), 683.
  8. Wells, C., Kolt, G. S., Marshall, P., Hill, B., & Bialocerkowski, A. (2014). The effectiveness of Pilates exercise in people with chronic low back pain: a systematic review. PloS one, 9(7), e100402.
  9. Barker, A. L., Bird, M. L., & Talevski, J. (2015). Effect of pilates exercise for improving balance in older adults: a systematic review with meta-analysis. Archives of physical medicine and rehabilitation, 96(4), 715–723.
  10. da Silva, L. D., Shiel, A., & McIntosh, C. (2021). Pilates Reducing Falls Risk Factors in Healthy Older Adults: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Frontiers in medicine, 8, 708883.
  11. Cazotti, L. A, Jones, A., Roger-Silva, D., Ribeiro, L. H. C., & Natour, J. (2018). Effectiveness of the Pilates Method in the Treatment of Chronic Mechanical Neck Pain: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, 99, 1740-1746.
  12.  Ghandali, N. Y., Iravani, M., Habibi, A., & Cheraghian, B. (2021). The effectiveness of a Pilates exercise program during pregnancy on childbirth outcomes: a randomised controlled clinical trial. BMC pregnancy and childbirth, 21(1), 480.
  13.  Denham-Jones, L., Gaskell, L., Spence, N., & Pigott, T. (2022). A systematic review of the effectiveness of Pilates on pain, disability, physical function, and quality of life in older adults with chronic musculoskeletal conditions. Musculoskeletal care, 20(1), 10–30.
  14. Vaquero-Cristóbal, R., Alacid, F., Esparza-Ros, F., López-Plaza, D., Muyor, J. M., & López-Miñarro, P. A. (2016). The effects of a reformer Pilates program on body composition and morphological characteristics in active women after a detraining period. Women & health, 56(7), 784–806.