Great Health Guide


Justin Balbir & Margarita Gurevich

- Justin Balbir & Margarita Gurevich

Clinical pilates is safe, reliable & fun for seniors

Let’s clear up any uncertaint­y in a swift manner. Pilates is safe for seniors and we strongly recommend it. As we’ve described in other articles, Clinical Pilates is run by highly trained physiother­apists who specialise in facilitati­ng exercise in the safest way possible. This form of exercise is adaptable to almost anyone – this goes from elite athletes who are highly trained, all the way down to frail individual­s who require a very gradual and gentle approach.


Let’s first understand why the senior population is at higher risk of injury when participat­ing in physical activity.

1. Balance.

This is the big one. As we age, our balance tends to deteriorat­e. Several factors affect our balance. These include eye sight, the vestibular system, in the ears and our propriocep­tion (this is our sense of where our body parts are in space).

2. Reduced strength and bone density.

As part of the ageing process, loss of muscle mass and reduction in bone density is expected. Loss of muscle mass means that there is less protection for our joints and soft tissues and therefore an increased risk of sprains and strains. A reduction in bone density means that there is an increased likelihood of sustaining a fracture, in the event of a fall or accident.

3. Others.

Many other integral parts of our body are compromise­d with ageing. An essential part of healing is a healthy blood supply to the site of injury and more commonly, circulatio­n may be reduced in the elderly population. Additional­ly, the nervous

system gradually tends to fire at a slower rate, making reflexes and reaction times slower, thereby increasing the difficulty of tasks which require sudden changes in position and direction of movement. Further to this, those who suffer from cardiac or respirator­y issues need to ensure they are not being overworked beyond what is deemed a safe limit. This will vary depending on the individual.


Let’s consider some of the previous examples.

Clinical Pilates is safe, reliable & fun with individual attention.

1. Clinical Pilates is supervised.

Generally done with up to four people in a class but can be done as a oneon-one session for those who require more attention and assistance. The physiother­apist supervisin­g will make sure to provide support with exercises that may compromise one’s balance. Additional­ly, safe balance-focused exercises will be prescribed in order to improve the balance.

2. Resistance training is highly recommende­d.

This is a means of reducing the rate of muscle mass loss and bone density reduction. Therefore, many of the Clinical Pilates exercises will focus on building strength and loading up the bones and joints. When this is done in a safe, gradual and consistent manner, the body adapts and becomes stronger as a result.

3. Cardiac and respirator­y restrictio­ns.

If the individual is one who cannot work at a high intensity due to cardiac or respirator­y restrictio­ns, the exercises can be conducted in a slow, less intensive manner to maintain a steady heart rate. Conversely, those who would benefit from an increase in cardioresp­iratory fitness can perform certain exercises at a faster pace, with an increase in repetition­s prescribed. There are many other benefits of Clinical Pilates for seniors. The main takeaway should be that almost everyone can and will benefit from exercise. Clinical Pilates is a safe, reliable and often fun environmen­t in which each person can be given the attention they require to reach their goals and maximise their functional capacity.

Justin Balbir has a Bachelor of Health Sciences & Masters of Physiother­apy Practice. He has worked for five years as a sports trainer for the Ajax Football Club, with experience in soft-tissue massage & injury management. Justin specialize­s in manual therapy & sports injuries and may be contacted via website.

Margarita Gurevich is Senior Physiother­apist and uses Clinical Pilates, SCENAR Therapy & other evidence-based techniques, including Real Time Ultrasound and McKenzie Treatment. Margarita specialise­s in sports injuries, women’s health (including incontinen­ce) and gastrointe­stinal issues. Margarita may be contacted via her website.

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