Clinical Pilates – Is It Effective for Patients with Shoulder Pain?

Pilates Shoulder Pain

In our previous blog we explored whether exercise therapy is effective for rotator cuff problems based on a literature analysis of various high quality randomised controlled trials. In this blog we will share the results of another interesting study, this time on the subject of whether Clinical Pilates is effective for various shoulder pathologies, not just those involving the rotator cuff.

In 2017 the results of a study entitled “The effects of Clinical Pilates exercises on patients with shoulder pain: a randomised clinical trial” was published in the Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies. The aim of the study was to investigate the effectiveness of Clinical Pilates exercises on patients with shoulder pain. Given the high focus our Centre places on Clinical Pilates the results of the study were very important and meaningful to us.

The study included 33 patients who have been experiencing shoulder pain continuously for at least four weeks. The patients were randomly divided into two groups – Clinical Pilates exercise and conventional exercise. The patients were treated five days per week over a total of ten days. The assessment of pain and disability on the patients was performed at baseline and at the end of the treatment course. Two assessment tools were used – Visual Analog Scale and Shoulder Pain and Disability Index.

What did the results reveal? The Clinical Pilates exercise group demonstrated a significant improvement in all scores used for the assessment, while the conventional exercise group showed a significant improvement only on the Shoulder Pain and Disability Index.

The conclusion of the study, therefore, was that “Clinical Pilates exercise is an efficient technique for patients experiencing shoulder pain, as it helps to reduce pain and disability among them”.

What was the take home message for us, as physiotherapists and accredited exercise physiologists? We can now be even more confident in the effectiveness of our Clinical Pilates program for patients with shoulder pain. Like with any condition, though, it’s important to remember that the exercises need to be specific to the individual – both to their pathology and goals.

The first step, therefore, should always be to make an accurate diagnosis of the cause of the shoulder pain and then treat the cause. Our full body diagnostic assessment helps us make the correct diagnosis and consequently allows us to work out a relevant program for every patient/client. No two people are the same, hence no programs should be the same. A “one size fits all” approach definitely does not work when it comes to physiotherapy or exercise physiology.


Esra Atilgan, Aydan Aytar, Aslican Caglar, Ayca Aytar Tigli, Gamze Arin, Gokmen Yapali, Pinar Kisacik, Utku Berberoglu, Hulya Ozlem Sener, Edibe Unal. The effects of Clinical Pilates exercises on patients with shoulder pain: A randomised clinical trial. J Bodyw Mov Ther. 2017; 21 (4): 847-851