Movement Heals, Clinical Pilates with Rohini

This week, we sit down with Rohini to discuss the wonders of Clinical Pilates, the types of clients she sees, and her favourite client success story. 

Tell us a little more about yourself!

I am a senior instructor and rehab team lead at Breathe Pilates. I am based mainly at the Raffles Quay studio. I was born in India, lived in Melbourne, Australia for a while and moved to Singapore four years ago.

As a Pilates trainer with a bias toward rehabilitation, I support a team of Physiotherapists at Core Concepts and work with clients from Breathe Pilates to rehabilitate and retrain people back to their daily functional activities or help them achieve their athletic goals post injury or post surgery .

I  work and enjoy working with clients that want to add variety to their exercise routine or wish to use Pilates to keep them conditioned and flexible. I also specialise in helping sportsmen/women to improve their running, dancing, tennis etc   

How did you end up specialising in clinical Pilates? When and how did you start gaining interest in rehab? 

About 9 years ago in Melbourne, I started work at a Physio practice that worked with dancers, amateur tennis and football players recovering from surgeries and/or injuries. Whilst in Melbourne, I also got to work in Women’s Health as part of a work placement. I  really enjoyed the aspect of ‘play’ in exercise and seeing all the cute babies at work. 

After 2 months of doing that, I was pretty much hooked and they offered me a job to teach Pilates at the studio/clinic and I stayed on until I moved to Singapore.  I have been in this space ever since. 

In Australia, there is a lot of focus on prehab and rehab. What is your take on the mindset of an average Singaporean on the importance of rehab? Why is rehab/prehab important?

I find the benefits of prehab or rehab are discovered later rather than sooner in many cases and this could happen due to any number of reasons. I think the role of exercise and exercise professionals in recovery is sometimes underplayed. Corrective exercises, movement re-training and strengthening can help regain full function or return to functional activities in many cases. 

Today, prehabilitation is used to prepare for a variety of surgeries and major medical procedures. It helps prepare physically and emotionally for rigorous treatments, procedures, thereby reducing the incidence and/or severity of post-therapy impairments. For example, giving birth has been compared to running a marathon, with good pre-natal training, post birth recovery could be faster or easier and this is so often overlooked in pregnant women.

Functional Anatomy Pilates Teacher Training Course

Phase 1 post circuit breaker, we are able to see our rehab/clinical Pilates clients again. As senior instructor, with a specialty in rehab and who leads the rehab team, you’re the best person to tell us a bit more about clinical Pilates! 

What is the difference between Clinical Pilates and normal Pilates?

Pilates, as a whole, is a form of exercise and is hugely beneficial for the larger population and is widely used in the rehab space, with focus on stability and control.  Pilates is almost synonymous with rehab and core training. It is suitable for everyone, and can be used in rehabilitation, performance optimisation or even just for general fitness. Clinical Pilates differs from normal Pilates in that it has to be done under the supervision of a Health Professional, such as a physiotherapist or doctor.

Walk us through the process from start to end when a new client comes in for clinical Pilates

All clients that come in for clinical Pilates go through the same stages. These stages are:  

  1. Client History : Find out the how, where, what and when of injury, surgery or condition and ensure has be okayed for exercise by specialist/ physio ) GP etc 
  2. Understand Client Goals at start of session and agree on expectations or reset expectations at end of session
  3. Assess Range Of Motion or lack thereof if applicable
  4. Assess Strength: muscle strength and length test or movement test whichever fits w client story
  5. Exercise In Pain-Free Range In Studio
  6. Home Exercise Program give client home exercise program and follow up on client one day post session 
  7. Follow Up with referring doctor/allied health professional to report on the plan or progress of the client 

If symptoms get worse or  do not get resolved in a set timeline, we recommend getting a second opinion from a peer or send back to referring health professional.

What kind of cases do you see?

I am very lucky and  rarely bored because I get to see a wide variety of cases. Most common cases I see include lower back and neck pain (strains, sprains, disc issues or post-surgery), prenatal clients with pregnancy associated aches and pains, postpartum clients with diastasis recti and back pain, post-operation or prehab knee (ACL or Meniscus injuries) and shoulder pain (frozen or rotator cuff injuries or lack of flexibility).   

How do you work with the physiotherapist as part of a multi disciplinary team. What’s the communication like to make sure that patient is cared for holistically? 

There is very tight and specific communication we have established to follow and track progress and success for each patient. Timely communication within the team and also with our clients plays a very big role in client recovery and meeting client goals. 

We have daily and weekly case discussion meetings with the team and also physiotherapist or peer supervised sessions to ensure we are on top of our game. 


What is your favourite thing about Pilates?

The versatility of the exercises, the universal application of the basic principles of Pilates across all activities we do in life, the specificity of the training and the use of the wonderful equipment which we are lucky to have at our studios! 

What is the best exercise for a good back stretch after a long day at the office?

On oldie but a goodie is the seated or standing against wall roll down (provided no pain or contraindicated).

What has been your best success story? What was the issue, how often did they train and what were the results? 

I have been lucky to work with dedicated clients and my favourite story is about a mum who had to care for her child with a disability and had severe back pain. Her goal was very clear, to be able to carry and support her child in his daily function

We trained her twice a week (with home exercises of course) over 4 months. Her exercise routine included core stability, hip mobility, strength training and upper body and abdominal strength, lifting techniques and balance to carry about 35 kilos. Three members on our team worked with her and she left us with no pain and confidence to care for her child! She has an exercise plan that lasts her a lifetime that she can continue to practise at home.

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