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Clinical Pilates for Hip Pain

Written by Louisa Stewart

A common injury seen here in the clinic is hip pain in women between 35 and 55 years of age.  Pain is often first noticed after something as simple as getting back to walking or running after a period of time being less-active like after having kids or a particularly busy few years balancing a busy work and home schedule.  There are many causes for hip pain including impingement, arthritis, and bursitis; but today I’m simply going to share a story of a recent patient who was experiencing pain on the outside of her hip.

Last week I saw Carly, a busy mum of 3 young children, who has been struggling to get back to exercise due to hip pain with running.  Every time Carly starts to get some momentum with exercise her hip pain worsens and it results in needing to take another few weeks off.  After 18 months of niggling pain flares and being unable to find consistency with exercise due to injury, Carly booked an appointment with me for some advice. 

In Carly’s case, we found that the pelvis had not regained its strength and rigidity after the birth of her third child 3 years ago.   During the process of pregnancy, hormone levels allow increased stretch of both ligaments and tendons around the pelvis to allow for the birth process.  This, when combined with the fact that Carly has been less active in the previous few years, meant that her tendon was less able to tolerate the repetitive stresses of running before becoming overloaded and causing pain. 

After assessing individual strength and movement problems my recommended first line of treatment was a tailored Clinical Pilates program focusing on strength and control of the pelvis and lower back.  This type of low-impact exercise is highly beneficial for individuals with hip and back pain as it helps to reduce pressure on the joints and tissue while strengthening the supporting muscles.  In short - we're able to build strength without damaging the tendon.  A structured 12 weeks of strength work should allow us to progress into running within 3 months.  

Although Pilates is a widely used form of exercise, it is not a one-size-fits-all solution.  If you have pain or injury it's important to speak with a professional before starting exercise.  A physio can help to identify any areas of weakness or imbalance, and develop an individualized program that focuses on addressing those areas while also managing hip pain to avoid flaring pain.

If the above story sounds like you, there is an additional point to consider. Pelvic floor concerns are often seen as a separate issue, but are often linked. I recently spoke with Charlotte Conlon, a specialist Women’s Health Physiotherapist at Flow Physio Co in Sydney’s Sutherland Shire, about managing hip pain in women.  Charlotte adds that pelvic and glute pain in women can be due to pelvic floor issues. This is particularly common in those who have given birth.  Charlotte advises that the pelvic floor should be taken into consideration when programming for Clinical Pilates if you experience weakness/heaviness, incontinence (no matter how mild), or pelvic/vaginal pain. If you experience any of these symptoms, you should speak with a women’s health physio.


For pelvic floor and women’s health concerns, book an appointment with our Women’s Health Physio, Claire McGillivray. You can read more about our women’s health physio service here.


Written by Louisa Stewart

Senior Physiotherapist

Eastside Physio + Co

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At Eastside Physio + Co, we are committed to delivering the best care to the locals of Surrey Hills and its neighbouring areas. Our skilled and experienced Surrey Hills physios​ are dedicated to supporting the well-being of our clients, who come from a variety of nearby suburbs including  AshwoodAshburtonAuburnBalwynBlackburnBox Hill, Burwood, Camberwell, Canterbury, Doncaster, and Hawthorn. 

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