Pilates & Arthritis

How the Principles of Gentle Progressive Exercises Can Help Joints and Muscles with Wear and Tear

It’s in our name! But what is Pilates and what makes it different to other forms of exercise?

Pilates is a form of exercise with its roots specifically in rehab.

Let’s use Arthritis (Osteoarthritis) as a case in point.

Arthritis affects at least 1 in 11 Australians which is more than 2.1 million people: If you experience joint stiffness or pain, you are not alone!

Broadly speaking, Arthritis is a wearing of the cartilage to the point where osteophytes or bone spurs begin to form in gaps of cartilage. This creates inflammation – pain and stiffness in the joint(s) affected. Arthritis most commonly occurs in load-bearing joints – Knees, hips, the lower back and neck in particular.

From current research, we know that diet and exercise is the best first-response treatment to Arthritis.

Not medication (opioids) or surgery (joint replacement)!


In terms of exercise (our passion and expertise), how can it help?

  • Controlled & appropriate loading of the joint nourishes the cartilage.
  • Strengthening muscles will shift excessive loading away from the joint and into the muscles.
  • Muscle coordination smoothens movements and corrects biomechanics – using the joint exactly as it’s designed.
  • Conscious movement.

Do all forms of exercise tick the above boxes?

I’ll let you ponder that…

Let’s consider Clinical Pilates

First of all, what is Pilates?

Pilates is a specific system of exercise using primarily specialised equipment (or simply a mat) utilising springs, ropes, pulleys & slides to perform specifically-designed progressive exercises. This system allows for graded loading of the muscles & joints i.e. starting from very gentle, gradually progressing to challenging.

More so than the equipment, pilates is a set of exercise principles. These principles underpin each and every Pilates exercise:

  • Breathing
    • Utilising breath to guide & support movement.
  • Core and postural muscle control
    • De-loading all the joints through strengthening from the inside – out.
    • Head/neck/shoulder and pelvic alignment
  • Alignment & Weight Bearing of the Extremities
    • Upper and lower body strengthening
  • Movement Integration
    • Coordinated and conscious movement

Second of all, what is Clinical Pilates?

  • Individually designed/tailored program based on your needs & capabilities as identified through physio assessment.
  • Execution of the program under guidance & supervision by a Physiotherapist.
  • Program progression & adaptation responsive to your body’s changing needs.

Does Clinical Pilates tick all of the boxes when it comes to exercise and arthritis?


At Therapia (our Adelaide CBD Pilates studio), Clinical Pilates involves a 4-step process:

  1. Initial assessment, possibly with supporting hands-on treatment as required.
  2. Real-time Ultrasound of your abdominal core muscles
    Learn how to isolate and strengthen this crucial, yet subtle, area of the body.
  3. Two one-on-one sessions in our Pilates studio with your physio to construct & learn your tailored program.
  4. Attend group classes – with a maximum of 6 individuals, each performing their specific programs. Each class is closely supervised by a physio, who is on-hand to respond to the needs of each class-member.

Clinical Pilates underpins our approach to rehabilitation at Therapia Sports and Spine in Adelaide. We see the benefits of this rehab approach every day and love to share our passion for this vehicle for movement & connection to the wonders of human movement!

Connect with one of your amazing physios – at our Adelaide City clinic and pilates studio, our North Adelaide physio clinic or our Southern Fleurieu clinic, or via phone or email. We’re always keen for a chat!

If you’re having issues with arthritis and would like to consult one of our physios feel free to give us a call anytime on 8221 5011 or send us an email at info@therapia.com.au.

You can book in for an appointment with one of our amazing practitioners through the link below.

We look forward to seeing you soon!

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