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What is Clinical Exercise?

Published: January 29, 2021

What is Clinical Exercise?

Clinical Exercise is a special method of exercise, which focuses attention on core postural muscles that help keep the human body balanced and provide support for the spine. The initial method was developed by Josef Pilates in the early 1900’s to assist dancers in their performance, by improving their muscle balance, flexibility and coordination. He also found it very useful in rehabilitation and prevention of injuries.

Clinical Exercise exercises teach awareness of optimal alignment of the spine, and strengthen the deep torso and abdominal muscles. The exercises integrate whole body movement, postural alignment, breathing control, coordination and spinal stability. They are performed on the floor, physio-ball, Pilates roller or Pilates reformer.

What is the difference between Clinical Exercise and gym-based Pilates?

In gym based Pilates usually all participants are instructed to perform the same regime of exercises altogether, without tailoring to the needs of each class member.  Clinical Exercise is conducted by a qualified Physiotherapist and involves a tailored and individualised program based on specific assessment findings and goals. As client’s improve, the intensity (complexity of movement and resistance) of their program is safely progressed.

What are core muscles?

Core stability is mentioned frequently in gym and Pilates programs. Previously core muscle training involved strengthening of the global muscles; the large abdominals (six-pack muscles), obliques and erector spinae muscles (large rod-like muscles either side of your spine). However, more recently research has shown that it is the deeper abdominal and spinal muscles that provide stabilization to the spine. The global and the deeper muscles must work together to protect the spine from injury.

Image of multifidus muscle and transversus abs

Core stability refers to muscular control around the lower back/hip/pelvic region. In the past it was believed these muscles needed to be strengthened to provide stability. However, strength is not the only, nor the most important quality of these muscles. Correct activation, isolation and endurance of these muscles is much more important. 

The most important core muscles are transversus abdominis (TA), multifidus and the deep neck flexors (see picture, right). 

Why are the core muscles important?

Evidence has shown that JUST ONE episode of back or neck pain inhibits (switches off) the core muscles. These muscles lose strength and activation and therefore fail to provide adequate core support to the spine. Without support from these core muscles the spine is vulnerable to further injury.

Practising the Clinical Exercise methods regularly will rehabilitate, prevent re-injury, and enhance performance following any musculoskeletal injury.

Clinical Exercise at Back In Motion Camberwell

Clients wishing to begin Clinical Exercise will undergo an assessment to determine their goals so that an individualised program can be designed by the assessing physiotherapist. Clients will then complete one-on-one Clinical Exercise sessions to ensure their technique is sufficient prior to commencing semi-private supervised group sessions. Our sessions run for 50 minutes and can be claimed under Private Health Insurance if you have extras cover for Physiotherapy.

We have 38 Clinical Exercise classes per week to accomodate our client's busy schedules - view our Clinical Exercise timetable using the Tab in the top right hand corner of our home page.


What do I wear to Clinical Exercise?

To ensure you are comfortable during your Clinical Exercise sessions, you should wear something loose fitting and easy to move in. 

For more information about our Clinical Exercise programs contact us on 9889 3903 or email us at


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