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Benefits of Floor-Based Exercises

Here at Barossa Physiotherapy, we hold a series of floor-based exercises all throughout the week at both our Nuriootpa clinic and at the Barossa Wellness Centre in Tanunda. When the weather is nice we even pop outside on the lawn.

But what exactly is floor-based exercise?

What are floor-based exercises?

Floor-based exercises are performed on mats, and are based upon the concepts of Pilates. Therefore, it involves the adaptation of up to 50 different exercises to create muscle exertion to increase strength and endurance. They can also be altered in difficulty to challenge anyone – from someone needing gentle rehabilitation post-surgery to an athlete needing a vigorous workout. These exercises can also incorporate different equipment – including resistance bands, deflated balls, and “Pilates rings”.

What is the history of Pilates?

It all started near the end of World War 1, where Joseph Pilates created unique beds for non-walking injured soldiers. These involved the attachment of springs to aid in the rehabilitation process by supporting the injured limbs whilst he assisted with exercises. There was significant improvement in these soldiers, which then spurred him on to create his own method of physical and mental conditioning. This has been continually adapted over time, and in the last 20-30 years has been picked up by the physiotherapy community as a form of treatment for a series of conditions.

What muscles are targeted in our floor-based classes?

Perhaps one of the most important muscles that are targeted in our classes in the transverse abdominis (or TA for short). This is located in the lower part of your abdomen, and attaches to your spine – essentially hugging around your abdomen. This muscle is important in maintaining postural control and is consistently one of the first muscles activated when moving our arms and legs. We aim to strengthen and increase the endurance of this and other abdominal/core muscles – which include the rectus abdominis, and the external and internal obliques.

These other abdominal muscles, along with the TA, are also key in providing stability to the trunk. Throughout a series of different exercises these are challenged in a variety of ways, resulting in increased strength and endurance which theoretically takes the pressure off your Lumbar spine (your lower back). The training of breathing in our classes also involves the abdominal muscles, and greater control of breathing has been shown to assist with the stabilisation of your lower back.

In addition to the abdominal muscles, the pelvic floor muscles are also challenged due to their close proximity to the abdominals and their common function. In fact, one study compared a Pilates-based program to a specific targeted pelvic-floor strengthening program – the findings of which showed that both were as effective as each other in strengthening the pelvic floor.

Who would benefit from joining our floor-based classes?

Those with lower back pain are the most common people referred to Pilates-based classes. This is because it has been well established that core weakness has been linked as a common deficit in people with lower back pain. There is a large base of evidence that suggest the benefits of these programs.

One study found that a 12-week Pilates program was effective in reducing self-reported disability, pain levels, and fear of movement. In addition, TA thickness was also found to be increased – which essentially means that the muscle is bigger and therefore stronger. Another study found that an 8-week Pilates program also reduced self-reported disability and back pain. Additionally, both lower back flexibility and balance were both shown to have improvements.

Speaking of balance, falls prevention is another key reason of referral. One study showed a 12-week course of Pilates for 65+yo women improved their dynamic balance, flexibility, reaction time, and general muscle strength – all of which are key in preventing falls.

Another important component of Pilates-based exercise is the “body-mind” connection that is encouraged – which can assist with improving self-perceived quality of life. This was shown in a study that compared Pilates to Yoga and also to a group that did not exercise. Using scores from the Rand-36 health survey (which considers physical and emotional wellbeing, pain, energy levels, and health perceptions), it was shown that Pilates-based exercise had a larger positive impact on individual health and self-perceived quality of life than both Yoga and no exercise. We think that part of this is the socialisation with other like-minded people, in combination with the exercise.

More about our classes

Our class times at our Nuriootpa clinic are as follows:

  • Monday 10am

  • Monday 5:15pm

  • Tuesday 10am

  • Thursday 1pm

  • Thursday 5:30pm

As mentioned earlier, we also have classes at the Barossa Wellness Centre in Tanunda, the times for these classes are:

  • Tuesday 1pm

  • Wednesday 12:30pm

If you haven’t been to a class with us before or haven’t been with us for a long time, you will need to book an appointment with Amanda or Melissa in our clinic for a one-on-one introduction session – and they will run through a few exercises to get you up to speed.

To book in or register your interest in these classes, feel free to call Barossa Physiotherapy on (08) 8562 3441.

To get an idea of what Pilates exercises look like, we have a few examples included in the PDF below so you can have a go in your own home.

Introductory Floor-Based Exercises
Download PDF • 880KB

Aden Hilliard (Final Year Student Physiotherapist)


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