Clinical Pilates is a form of physical exercise that focuses on core stability, balance, control, strength, posture, breathing and flexibility. The benefits are well-documented but noted experts have cautioned there could be dangers if Pilates is practiced without the guidance of a licensed physiotherapist.
Elena Naranjo, Physiotherapist at Dubai Herbal & Treatment Centre, who has had eight years of practice in Spain and France before relocating to the Emirates in 2015 says, “Pilates can do wonders to treat injuries and pains. If you have mechanical back pain you should benefit from the principles and movements of Pilates. However, if the purpose of the exercises is not adequately explained and your technique is not checked then you could be doing the movements wrong. This could then actually make the pain worse.”
Since moving to Dubai, Elena has worked as a physiotherapist at various sports events such as, Marathons in Spain, The Rugby Sevens Dubai 2015 and Iron Man Dubai 2016.
According to Elena, fitness centres in Dubai offer Pilates classes with only an instructor on board, teaching classes on how to practice the exercise programme. “Yet many do not have physiotherapists who can properly give counsel and treatment to people suffering from many forms of injuries. A well-structured class should always have 4 or less people attending and everyone should complete an assessment prior to joining. How can a class with over4 people who the instructor does not know, suffering with varying injuries be considered safe for the remedial population, i.e. for someone hoping to improve a condition by attending a class? Many do not realise the value of a physiotherapist until the condition worsens,” she added.
Mechanical pain is common and needs physiotherapy intervention to correct the muscle imbalances and lack of flexibility that may be presenting. Pilates is a method that Physiotherapists can use to correct these imbalances and to get this flexibility. Within a private setting it is also an affordable means to receiving ongoing Physiotherapy advice and rehabilitation under the guidance of an expert.
Pilates instructors may be able to teach Pilates but many are not qualified to give rehabilitation to someone who has an injury or provide medical diagnosis. Physiotherapists, on the other hand, can give full rehabilitation and can be taught to teach Pilates. Physiotherapist’s receive advanced education in anatomy and exercise prescription throughout their degree programme and after graduation with ongoing continuing professional development. A physiotherapist will understand the nature of the injury or problem and can therefore suggest the appropriate treatment. “They will therefore be able to modify the exercises to ensure they are appropriate and the most effective for your needs,” explained Sandra Serrano, another licensed physiotherapist at Dubai Herbal & Treatment Centre who has had several years of success practice in Spain and France.
A certified Instructor in Pilates Floor exercises, Serrano has conducted Pilates classes for 8 years especially with patients suffering from musculoskeletal disorders and also with people who want to improve their quality of life through freer movement, such as those who work with computers heavily at work. Serrano says another benefit of working with licensed physiotherapists is that being an allied health professional, they will have contacts with local GPs, specialists, nurses and osteopaths and can provide patients a multi-disciplinary approach to care if necessary.
She pointed out, “Should further investigations be required or should patients need a referral for additional treatment, the physiotherapist (taking your Pilates class) will recognise this and can act on it directly. If you have undergone surgery and we need to know the details of the surgical procedure then in our capacity as a Physiotherapist we can enquire more.”