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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    Will pilates help reduce the instance of my sports injuries?

    I play competition soccer and am constantly having hamstring issues. I've been told to try pilates as a way to built strength and stretch out and strengthen my hamstring. Is pilates useful for this?
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    Alli grew up in Hobart, Tasmania before completing a 5 year Osteopathic degree at RMIT. After graduating Alli moved to Greece to play in the … View Profile

    Pilates works at strengthening and supporting the spine enhancing spinal and pelvic stability.  Hamstring issue's are usually problematic due to imbalances in the pelvis causing uneven weight distribution in the legs whilst walking and running.  Strengthening your spinal and pelvic stability will strengthen neuromuscular pathways and correct uneven weight distribution.  

    As an Osteopath and elite athlete myself I would highly recommend pilates not only to help your hamstring issue but also to prevent other unnecessary injuries.

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    Vitali Kanevsky

    Physiotherapist

    Modern, comfortable, clean and well equipped practice in Rose Bay, Sydney providing high standards of professional care, dedicated to returning you to pain-free activity.Physiotherapists are … View Profile

    From the limited details we get in these questions, the short answer is that pilates although useful for other conditions would not be my first treatment choice for recurrent hamstring strains.

    Research says that hamstring strains account for about 1 in 7 soccer injuries. Depending on the severity of the injury, recovery from a hamstring straincan take from a few days to several months. The re-injury rate is also high with about 25% of players suffering a recurrent injury. The muscles are often injured whilst running or sprinting, during the late swing phase of the stride. During that period, the hamstring muscles generate force to slow hip flexion and knee extension while they are being stretched. That is, are undergoing an eccentric contraction. A strain is just small tears within the muscle where scar tissue builds up. This scar tissue is not as elastic or strong as the muscle tissue.

    Initially, we would need to have a look whether there is an intrinsic involvement of the low back or mid back. There may be some neural tension which contributes to the recurrent nature of your condition. Other than that you need appropriate rest from aggravating activities and stretches/hands-on therapy to lengthen the muscle and help break up the scar tissue. The next part is the most important - strengthening the muscle to cope with your activities. This is the point you may also need to focus on appropriate core stabilisation, initially very basic exericises but building up to perhaps pilates (but this needs to be sport specific).

    A recent very large controlled study of 50 teams from the Danish top five divisions focussed on preventing hamstring strains. (Petersen etal. Preventive effect of eccentric training on acute hamstring injuries in men’s soccer. A cluster-randomized controlled trial. American Journal of Sports Medicine 2011). The hamstring injury rate for the training group was 3.8, compared to 13.1 for the control group. That is a 71% decrease in the rate of injury using a simple program of Nordic hamstring training over 10 weeks (a form of eccentric hamstring training). For new injuries, eccentric training reduced the injury rate by more than 60%. For recurrent injuries, the rate was lowered by about 85%!

    Your physiotherapist would go through all the above steps to return you to injury free soccer. Happy to see you or answer your question in more detail.

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    Melissa Turnock

    Massage Therapist, Pilates Instructor, Yoga Teacher

    Certified Pilates Instructor with over 10 years teaching experience. My own scoliosis related back pain led me to a Pilates studio in Neutral Bay in … View Profile

    As a Pilates Instructor, if you came to me with this information, I would ask you for a diagnosis coming from a suitable helath professional to help guide how I work with you. There are so many issues that could be leading to this recurring problem and in order to apply the Pilates method intelligently, I would want to understand exactly what's leading to the problem, could be some overworking muscles, could be a pelvic imbalance, could be related to your feet? A good Pilates Instructor will always work with you specifically for your needs, and needs to understand biomechanically what's happening for you to do the right thing by you. 

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    Colin Phillips

    Physiotherapist

    Owner of Penshurst Physiotherapy Centre, Sydney, NSW. I have experience in public, private and voluntary physiotherapy settings. My main area of expertise and experience is … View Profile

    With regards to your question, I would recommend you see a physio first to identify what is causing your hamstring issues it could be coming from lower back or the way you run or any number of issues.
    Pilates will be useful if you have a good instructor who has identified what the causes of your hamstring issues are.
    If you are in a class for pilates with 10- 15 people for an hour it is very unlikely that they will pick up on the minor faults.

    At our clinic the Physio does the initial assessment and then we talk to the pilates/exercise instructor with detailed instructions on how to approach the problem. There are only 4 people in the class so it is very individualised.
    If you are in the Sydney area we would be more than happy to take a look.

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    Jane Watson

    Physiotherapist

    Jane Watson is a leading physiotherapist based in the Upper North Shore servicing locations like Wahroonga, Pymble, Turramurra, Gordon, Thornleigh and surrounding suburbs. Jane's approach … View Profile

    All conditions need to be assessed before prescribing an exercise program. Pilates is exercise - pilates exercises are very diverse and may not be suitable for some conditions. For general stretching and strengthening it can be good, but for some conditions it could easily make things worse. I would have to say Pilates may not necessarily help this condition, which most likely needs more specific exercises and stretches to treat this problem.

  • Ian Montgomery

    Exercise Physiologist

    Experienced exercise physiologist specialising in musculoskeletal rehabilitation. With over 10 years experience working with clients returning to work after injuries I offer specialised physical conditioning … View Profile

    Rehabilitation back to high level dynamic sports requires a very specific rehab approach, built around the biomechanics and muscular co-ordination across hip and knee. While identifying any contributing factors relating to pelvis assymetries is important, from a physical rehab approach to prevent future injuries I've found the following info very useful - http://www.ausport.gov.au/sportscoachmag/sports_sciences/a_systematic_approach_to_hamstring_prevention_and_rehabilitation_part_1

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