Treating Tendinopathy with Pilates

Reformer Pilates

How does Pilates help with tendinopathy?

Quite often we see patients with tendinopathy, it is a condition stemming from the tendons.  Tendons attach muscles to bones and also transmit forces from muscles to bone.  Tendinopathy covers a variety of tendon problems:
  • Tendinitis – this refers to swelling of the tendons, so they may be inflamed, painful, swollen, warm and sometimes show redness
  • Tendinosis – basically non-inflammatory degeneration of a tendon. This degeneration can include changes to the structure or composition of the tendon

You can read more on the difference between tendinitis and tendinosis here,  however the most common tendon problems are achilles tendinitis, plantar fasciitis, patellar tendinitis, tennis elbow, golfer’s elbow and supraspinatus tendinitis.

Tendinitis and tendinopathy are characterised by activity-related pain, weakness and stiffness. They affect both professional and recreational athletes as well as workers who do repetitive work (including typing!). The risk of strains increases with age, weight and repetition.
Tendon strains, pains and degeneration are caused by repetitive load on the tendon.  For example, a lot of walking or running might cause  Achilles’ tendinitis and plantar fasciitis. If you are a keen golfer or tennis player you may develop golfer’s or tennis elbow.   But also worth remembering that tennis elbow can also be caused by rock climbing or typing.

How are tendon strains treated?

  • For an acute strain, ice and rest are best.
  • For repetitive strain injury, steroid injection into or around the tendon can be effective, but may leave it weak and susceptible to re-injury.

How can Pilates help?

Eccentric exercise (lengthening a contracting muscle) is the treatment of choice to rehabilitate repetitive strains and prevent further injury. The Pilates reformer, a beautifully designed piece of equipment, requires you to push against springs and then control the movement back without letting the spring snap back.

The Pilates reformer

(used by professional athletes and ballet dancers), is perfectly designed to:
  • Isolate and protect inflamed tendons
  • Rehabilitating worn and strained tendons
  • Build up the correct movement patterns
  • Strengthen muscles and muscle chains

Don’t just take our word for it either, here is feedback from a Kennington patient:

After straining my knee for the second time I was afraid of lunging and couldn’t straighten my knee without uncomfortable pulling in my hamstrings. Michelle was able to create a rehab programme to protect my knee joint whilst challenging my hamstrings and strengthening my glutes (and everything else!).

I found myself doing a big range of exercises that were hard, fun and left me feeling really worked out – not what I had expected.  My knee feels so much better (no fear of striding out), I feel stronger when standing from a squat and I can tell that I’m using different muscles when walking.

I love the sessions and have signed up for a course of 10!!!


If you’re not sure whether we can help, please give us a call on 020 7735 6813 or email