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Exercise improves immunity

We know there are many health benefits to leading an active lifestyle – one very important health benefit is that exercise enhances immune competency, particularly in older adults who are at greater risk of infection.

Exercise has been demonstrated to reduce the incidence of communicable diseases such as viral infections in addition to chronic diseases and non-communicable diseases such as cancer and chronic inflammatory disorders. Studies show improved immune surveillance to bacterial and viral antigens following bouts of exercise, in addition to the reduction/delay of ageing effects on the immune system through regular physical activity. This is great news for us at a time when we are looking for proactive ways to boost our immunity.


Scientists have discovered that the behaviour of almost all immune cell populations in the bloodstream is altered in some way after exercise. In fact, contemporary evidence emphasises that the immune system is in a heightened state of surveillance and regulation, particularly at about 1-2 hours after exercise. It appears that a specialised and systemic response occurs with mobilisation of immune cells to peripheral tissues, specifically in large numbers at mucosal surfaces such as the gut and lungs. It is thought that these immune cells identify and eradicate other cells infected with pathogens or those that have become damaged or malignant, along with the stimulation of immune cell production in the bone marrow.

Regular exercise is also championed as a means of enhancing the immune system’s competency in older adults, particularly those aged over 60 years. Studies show that people engaging in regular, moderate to vigorous exercise of at least 20 minutes, three or more times per week have a greater immunity response compared with those who do not exercise.

Additionally, there is scientific support for exercise as immunotherapy for cancer following observation of anti-tumour behaviour of immune cells after exercise.

So, make sure you keep moving regularly to improve your immunity, and if you’re when you feel the time is right, schedule in some exercise with our team of health and movement professionals at The Body Refinery. We have a range of options available to you, including online classes, 1-on-1 exercise physiology sessions, 1-on-1 physio-led clinical rehabilitation sessions, and small group clinical rehab classes that are taken by a physiotherapist. There is no better way to commit to your self-care and boost immunological health at the same time.

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 Written by Sarah Holloway, Myotherapist and Pilates Instructor


Your posture during screen time

Have you heard of the chin poke posture or forward head posture, or text neck? As their name suggests it is the position we find ourselves forming when we’re deep into a solid Netflix binge, IG scroll session or when we’ve been concentrating hard at work or study. It looks like chin poking out, and hunched shoulders, arms out in front on a keyboard or holding or devices.

No judgement friends, only care.

If this is you (let’s be honest, it’s all of us right?!) this blog is here to help.

Here are a few ways you can minimise getting a sore neck and shoulders, along with some remedies if you’ve already gone too hard with screen time and need some smoothing out.


Why does it hurt and what’s the problem with being in this posture?


So glad you asked.

Technically forward head posture means your skull is leaning forward a few to several centimetres in front of the midline of your body – your ears are not lining up with your shoulders. You can test this by standing against a wall: does your butt, upper back and back of the headline up nice and easily on the wall? If not…forward head posture.

Gravity plays a huge role in how the body changes from prolonged postures. In this case, because the head isn’t stacked nicely on top, the weight of your head increases load through your neck and upper back joints and tissues, for every couple of centimetres your head is forward, there is approximately an additional 4.5kg of weight placed through these areas, potentially leading to stiffness and dysfunction, including headaches and soreness in the neck and upper back.

Additionally, lengthening and weakness occur to the ‘core’ muscles at the front of the neck, the postural muscles through the upper back, between the shoulder blades and at the back of the shoulders. While shortening and tightness affect other muscle, including at the base of your head and chest muscles. This can create dysfunction and discomfort in addition to reducing the strength and endurance to hold your head and upper back upright.

Further to this, other muscles can compensate for those that are weakened but can end up overactive, often becoming the cause of headaches and discomfort between the shoulder blades. Our ability to breathe properly and deeply is reduced, thus there can be reduced oxygen in our system and muscles – we can feel de-energised and achy around our fatigued postural muscles. The jaw alignment is not ideal in head forward posture, potentially leading to tightness and dysfunction. And upper body alignment in this posture can affect shoulder range and function.


How to avoid this


Take regular reset and movement breaks. If you can commit to this for a couple of weeks, you will increase your body awareness, improve postural strength, improve mobility and reduce tension. And you will be likely to continue this behaviour as it will become a habit.

Here are some stretch suggestions:

5-10 second Reset breaks regularly – do a quick body scan

  • Sitting up from the sit bones, even pressure through both sides of your seat, spine upright in a neutral position- hopefully supported by a good chair, both feet on the ground, head sitting on top of shoulders. Shoulders relaxed, neck long and relaxed.
  • Take a few deep, slow breaths in through the nose, down into the abdomen, expanding outwards into the lower ribs and up into the chest. Then slowly breathe out fully, pausing for a moment before the next breath.

Movement breaks

Mobility – Increase blood flow around the joints and tissues and improve the movement of the spine to make sitting upright easier.


In your seat:

  • T-spine extension – Sitting up tall in your chair, extend back over the backrest, breathe in and exhale to return. Do several, they feel good!

  • Mermaid – take your left hand out to the side, inhale, exhale as you curve your upper back in a C shape to open the ribs, reaching your arm overhead. Do at least 6 repetitions on each side.

  • Bow and arrow – reaching arms in front, shoulder width and height reach one arm forward rotating your spine with it as you pull the other arm back like a bow and arrow, you’re aiming to rotate your upper body while keeping the hips square. Do at least 6 repetitions on each side.

  • Shoulder rolls – get the blood flowing around your shoulder muscles by circling the shoulders forward 6 times and back 6 times.

Postural Strengthening

This will help you find a good posture with ease and have the endurance to maintain it. It will also allow to decrease the aching pain around your neck, shoulders and upper back.

  • Cervical retractions – sitting up tall, draw the head back w a gentle chin tuck as if you were trying to get a double chin. Hold for a few seconds. You can progress this to standing against a wall and retracting your head to press the back of it against the wall for a few seconds. Or coming into 4 point kneeling and adopting the same retracted position through the head and neck and holding against gravity for several seconds before relaxing. Repeat 10 times

  • Bruggers- sitting tall, take your arms in an A shape, Extend the arms back behind you, Rotate the crook of the elbow to face out, thumbs back and palms out. Squeeze in between the shoulder blades and hold for 30 sec to 1 min, 3-4 times, increasing a little more in time or sets as the weeks go on.

  • Theraband rows – if you have a resistance band, tie it around something steady and about at navel level or higher. Hold the ends and pull the elbows back like you’re rowing. 15 – 20 reps.

  • Dart – laying on the ground face down, arms along your side, extend your upper back, lifting your chest and upper ribs off the ground. Roll the shoulders back to open the chest, lift the arms off the ground and squeeze them up to the ceiling as you pull the shoulder blades together, hold for a few moments and lower. Repeat 5-6 times.



Decrease tightness and tension in shortened muscles.

  • Hip flexor stretch – Stand in a lunge position and as you drop your back knee toward the ground, tuck your bottom under and press the hips forward at the same time.

  • Pectoralis major and minor stretch – Stand side on to a wall or door frame, place your forearm vertically on the wall or door frame with your elbow slightly above the shoulder, step forward with the body until you feel a stretch in your chest. Also in the door frame, slide your arm vertically up the wall until your elbow is higher than your head and walk forward until you get a comfortable, but deep stretch in the chest

  • Upper cervical stretch – Tuck your chin in and tip your nose toward your chest, you can add some gentle assistance with your hand to deepen the stretch.


Further help is available at The Body Refinery

At The Body Refinery, we have a great team of movement and health professionals to help you further. Our physios are trained in headache assessment and treatment. You can book in for a massage to reduce tension and stiffness and restore muscle function and movement. And you can boost your strength, stability and mobility with our varied movement options – work out at home with our live virtual classes or your own membership to The Body Refinery Online. Come in for greater attention to your form and a tailored movement session with our Exercise Physiologist, Pilates Instructor or in a physio run clinical rehab session.

Exercise protects respiratory health

To minimise the transmission of COVID-19, social distancing, and meticulous hand washing hygiene are two preventative measures that are being encouraged by Governments and health authorities world-wide. But we can be empowered to do more to proactively protect our respiratory health during this pandemic, and the great news is that it has nothing to do with restrictions and everything to do with getting off the couch and/or stepping away from the desk.

We know that exercise is important for our health and wellbeing, and it is promoted for its protective benefits in the prevention and treatment of illness and disease for good reason. Recent medical research strongly supports the possibility that regular endurance exercise may prevent, or at least reduce, the severity of acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), which can be one of the serious respiratory-related symptoms of COVID-19.

Through endurance exercise, skeletal muscle naturally produces a protective enzyme known as ‘extracellular superoxide dismutase’ (EcSOD). This potent antioxidant is redistributed to vital tissues, particularly the lungs. This enhanced EcSOD activity increases the first line of defence against oxidative damage in the lung tissue. By reducing oxidative stress in the lungs, EcSOD reduces the risk and severity of acute lung injury and ARDS. Thus, it is suggested that regular endurance exercise may be an effective therapeutic intervention for the prevention and treatment of numerous oxidative stress-related diseases, including some of the respiratory symptoms of COVID-19.

The great news is that endurance exercise can be as simple as a long walk, run, ride or swim.

Let this be the green light of encouragement to get out and get moving. Not only will it help clear the mind, increase endorphins, give you a change of scenery – and often perspective – but it will aid in the protection of your respiratory health. This is a great self-care activity you can do, starting today. If you would like support in your exercise journey, our caring health and movement professionals at The Body Refinery are here to help. We have a range of options available to you, including online classes, 1-on-1 exercise physiology sessions, 1-on-1 physio-led clinical rehabilitation sessions, and small group clinical rehab classes that are taken by a physiotherapist. Call, email or book online today.

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Written by Sarah Holloway, Myotherapist and Pilates Instructor 

How to calm the nervous system and reduce stress with simple breathing exercises

When we are faced with a stressful situation, our sympathetic nervous system sends a surge of hormones through our body, which makes our heart pump faster, our breathing quicken and blood to rush our muscles. This is called the ‘fight-or-flight’ response and is designed to help us fight or flee a threat. Once the threat has passed, another division of our nervous system, the parasympathetic nervous system, sets off the ‘rest and digest’ response, which returns the body to its normal resting and relaxed state. However, when we experience stress over a long period of time, our sympathetic nervous system is continually activated and this takes a toll on the body both physically and mentally.

Over the last few months, many of us have experienced, and continue to experience, high levels of stress-related to COVID-19. One of the simplest and most effective ways to reduce stress is through breathing exercises. By breathing slowly and deeply, we tell our nervous system that it is time to calm down. The amazing thing about the breath is that it is always present. Wherever we are, if thoughts and worries start to overwhelm us, we can take a moment to focus on our breathing. There are many different techniques you can use. Try the ones listed below and use whichever exercise works best for you.

Get into a comfortable position, either in a chair or sitting cross-legged on a cushion on the floor. Try to keep your back straight so it is easier to breathe properly. Gently close your eyes and settle into your posture.




  • Following Your Breath 

Breathe naturally. Try to follow the breath all the way in and out. Feel the air passing through your nose, your belly slightly rising and your chest expanding. Pick one spot where you can feel the breath the most and focus on this spot. Try to feel every breath that comes in and every breath that comes out. You may find as you try to focus on your breathing, your mind gets lost in thought. This is completely normal. Whenever it does, just gently bring your attention back to your breathing.


  • Diaphragmatic Breathing 

This exercise is best done lying on your back. Place one hand on your chest and one hand on your belly. Breathe in deeply through your nose and direct your breath into your belly so the hand on your belly rises up. The hand on your chest should remain relatively still. Then breathe out through your mouth, empty your belly completely and feel the hand on your belly fall.


  • Exhale > Inhale 

For this exercise, take 2 counts to breathe in and 4 counts to breathe out. If this breath feels too short, try increasing to 4 counts in and 6 counts out. Don’t push yourself to make your breaths as long as possible as this will only create more anxiety. The most important thing is that the exhale is longer than the inhale in order to promote the parasympathetic relaxation response.


After spending a few minutes on these breathing exercises, you should walk away feeling much calmer.


The important 4th Trimester

4th trimester

With so much pressure on women to be back to normal after the birth of their baby, we are seeing an increase in the number of post-partum issues occurring in women. These include prolapse, incontinence and pain.

Having a baby via either vaginal delivery or c section should be treated more like major surgery instead of something we bounce back from in six weeks. This is not to say that women should not be exercising, but rather considering the tissue changes that occur in pregnancy and having a specific plan to return to the activities they wish to do.

Women are commonly told to do what they want after the birth of their child and feel the pressure to get their pre-baby body and fitness back immediately.  Currently, there are no clear guidelines or rules in place to help protect against damaging the pelvic floor returning to exercise. At The Body Refinery, we recommend a post-partum consultation with one of our women’s health physiotherapists to help you design a plan to return to exercise.

4th trimester

Here are some general tips that should also be considered when recovering from pregnancy and birth and returning to exercise

1: Rest

Let your body recover!  You have been growing a baby for 40 weeks, which has involved tissues stretching and organs moving.  Increased weight and the effect of relaxin have weakened your joints in your body. You have either laboured or had surgery.  Rest and sleep are the best things for you to recover. Treat the first 6-12 weeks as a recovery period- a fourth trimester. Sleep is more important than ironing or running or getting your pre-baby body back.

2: Nutrition and Hydration

If you’re breastfeeding, your body needs a few extra calories and you need extra nutrients. Ask your health care professional if you need to take any supplements such as iron or calcium. A good GP, women’s health physio and dietician combination are important.  Take care you yourself to be able to give the most to your new baby.  Hydration is essential for all new mums.  It helps with milk production but also helps with muscle a fascia recovery.  Good hydration also helps with sleep.

  1. Be Realistic

After all, your body has been through expecting to return to your pre-baby fitness levels and body shape in less than 9 months is unrealistic.  It took 9 months to change and it is likely to take 9 months to change back. After having a check-up with a women’s health physio to ensure all the bit are where they should start slow.  Set aside 30 mins a day for exercise. This may be a gentle walk initially just pushing the pram or some exercises that your physio gives you. Ask you physio to help you map out an exercise routine that will work around the care of your baby.


When you have a new baby to care for, you should take precautions to avoid being out-of-action due to injury.  Some new mums may be ready to return to their pre-pregnancy exercise routine sooner than others, and some new mums may need to avoid certain exercises for several months.  It’s important to remember that your body has experienced significant changes and that every mum’s pregnancy and birth experiences are unique to them, which is why it’s important to seek professional guidance during the 4th-trimester recovery phase.

Our physiotherapy appointments are in private rooms.  To book an appointment with one of our experienced Women’s Health Physiotherapists, call our friendly admin team on 3358 3915.

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Book today to experience the benefits of a personalised post-partum exercises plan through our App or on 07 3358 3915.

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8 Tips for Looking After Yourself this Christmas Season

Christmas is a special (and often busy) time of year. However, it can also be a time when people seek treatment for injuries, whether it’s a sprained ankle from wearing high heels for five hours at a Christmas party, a dodgy neck from laying on the couch watching the Boxing Day Test, or even the niggly back or knees from playing with the grandkids on the floor.  Christmas puts us out of our ‘normal’ routine, which can be great, especially if your body is ready to adapt to changes.

Here are 8 tips to help you stay injury-free during this time.

  1. Keep active: It’s important that we stay active for our physical and mental health.  This may mean sticking to your usual routine or mixing it up. Christmas can be a great time to get out on the bike with the kids/grandkids or go for a hike.
  2. Don’t ignore pain: Whether you have injured yourself over the break or have been putting up with lingering pain that you’ve been too busy to address, the Christmas break can provide an opportunity to get your body pain-free and in top shape for the new year ahead.  Our Osteopath, Physiotherapists and Myotherapist can help get you on the right path to recovery.
  3. Ease into new exercise routines: Around the new year, many of us get a boost of enthusiasm to start a new exercise plan, which is a great idea.  Going from little or no activity to running five times a week and hitting the gym every other day can be a shock to our bodies, which may struggle to cope with a rapid escalation in activity, and can increase the risk of injury.  To help avoid injury, try building up to your new routine over a number of weeks.
  4. Avoid sitting for long periods: After a big year, everyone loves taking a break, but it’s important to remember that our bodies are not designed to sit on the couch all day. Getting up every 60 minutes to stretch your legs is a good first step toward minimising the chance of injury.
  5. Do things you enjoy: Decreasing stress and increasing endorphins (by doing things that make you happy) can change how frequently pain is experienced, so making sure you have time to take it easy and do the things you enjoy is important to your wellbeing.
  6. Get in the pool: swimming is a great low impact way to keep moving, not to mention a great way to beat the Brisbane summer heat!
  7. Give a fitness gift: Fitness trackers are a great gift idea, as is any sporting equipment that will help keep you and your family moving well and keeping active. The Body Refinery as also developed an online Pilates Studio for you to practice your Pilates anytime, anywhere! More information on www.thebodyrefineryonline.com
  8. Indulge in a massage: During the festive season, don’t forget to take the time to look after yourself by setting aside an hour to just relax and unwind – this could be the break you need this silly season.

From all of us here at The Body Refinery we wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

What is a pre-pointe assessment and why do I need one?

pre-pointe assessment

Starting to dance en pointe is one of the most exciting times in a young ballet dancer’s life. However, it is important to remember that dancing on the toes is not a typical function of the human foot. If a dancer does not have adequate range of motion, strength and or/stability, it can place excessive stress not only on the foot and ankle, but also on the leg, pelvic girdle, and trunk. A pre-pointe assessment is designed to assess a dancer’s readiness for pointe in order to prevent pain and lifelong injury.

At the Body Refinery, our physiotherapist Courtney has been trained to conduct in-depth pre-pointe assessments and prepare dancers for the demands of pointe work.

The Initial Pre-Pointe Assessment is one hour long. This allows our physiotherapist time to obtain a detailed history and assess posture, ballet technique, range of movement, strength and core stability in a friendly environment. Courtney will then develop an exercise program for the dancer to take home to address any weaknesses in these areas and ensure a safe progression onto pointe.

Dance Pre-pointe assessment physiotherapy The Body Refinery Brisbane

Clients will also have time to ask questions so that they understand every step of the program that our physiotherapist will tailor for them. After the assessment, a report will be provided to the dancer’s teacher outlining the results and exercises prescribed.

Follow up sessions may be required to monitor the dancer’s progress and ensure all of the requirements are met prior to going en pointe.

Depending on each dancer’s goals (and whether there are any existing injuries), Courtney may recommend clinical exercise sessions including Pilates. Clients may choose between private sessions, where they will have 100% of Courtney’s attention, or experience the benefits of joining one of our classes.

Whether you are training to be a professional dancer or taking dance classes for fun, we can help you reach your goals.

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Book your pre-pointe assessment today with physiotherapist Courtney. Create your profile to book through our online system or call 07 3358 3915!

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From Pain to Performance


Written by Susan Cottrell


The Body Refinery has been my baby for 12 years now. I bought the business in July 2007, when it was a small, but successful, Pilates studio with 4 part-time staff and operating hours of less than 35 hours per week. Now, as we reach the Studio’s 12th anniversary, I am incredibly proud to say we have 27 team members, we offer Pilates, physiotherapy, myotherapy, exercise physiology and remedial massage and are open for business about 74 hours a week.

Susan Cottrell Owner & Physiotherapist team

Susan Cottrell Owner & Physiotherapist

I bought the business for many reasons, one of which was that I loved (and still do love) Pilates and the benefits it provides for overall wellness. Being a physiotherapist, remedial massage therapist, and Pilates teacher, I wanted to create a business that took people from pain to performance with Pilates at the core (pardon the pun) of that model. The Body Refinery now proudly offers services have taken hundreds of clients from pain to performance and helped many more to achieve their specific health and movement goals, which were even better able to do, following the introduction of Exercise Physiology to the list of services provided earlier this year.

Neurological conditions fall prevention

The Body Refinery incorporates Pilates-informed exercises into physiotherapy to rehabilitate clients who are injured or experiencing pain. Once pain has been reduced or minimised, Pilates is often an ideal form of movement and exercise to help clients safely and efficiently return to peak performance in their daily activities and/or sport, whether that involves walking to the shops, picking up their child, playing a round of golf, climbing a mountain or completing a triathlon. Once returned to the activity of choice clients, can use our fitness-based classes to maintain their performance or add exercise physiology sessions into their routine to take their performance to the next level.


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Join our Pilates community and focus on your health and mind-body connection. Create your profile or book a class now!

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Movements and Activity: a pathway to improve


It is generally believed that when our body hurts we should stay still and avoid any painful movements to avoid worsening the symptoms. This is true only after an acute injury so that our body can heal the damaged tissue. However, excessive rest can have an adverse effect and make things worse in patients with musculoskeletal disorders.


Movement to treat your pain/injury

Not only because the body suffers from the effects of a de-conditioning process, but also because some people may become scared of moving and lose the awareness of the motion of the affected area. So consequently we move less, get stiffer, our muscle weakens and we have secondary pain due to inactivity.

In addition, it has been shown that pain-related fear has an important role in the transition from an acute injury to chronic pain in low back patients. Some patients perceive movements or stimulus as a threat, increasing the stress/anxiety towards specific activity and as a result, creating a fear-avoidance behaviour which leads to further misuse of the body and long-term disability.

Furthermore, the pain experience can be influenced by stress, excessive attention to pain and unhelpful believes. Consequently, the pain of that initial injury has become bigger and bigger due to other factors even though the healing time of the injury has been already finished.


So how can we break down this vicious loop?

A good start is moving, recovering that lost awareness of your body and re-learning how to move adequately, improving the confidence during activities, breaking down the pain-movement association in our brain and decreasing that perceived threat.

You may think “but how if it’s hurting?” The answer is pacing, little by little with the help of health professionals to support you and reassure you through this process. You cannot win a marathon if you didn’t train it before, so after prolonged inactivity due to pain is similar, it is important to build up the strength and movement little by little, to promote the tissue adapt to the new activity, settling goals to finish your own race to get out of such loop.

At the Body Refinery, you can find physiotherapists to help manage your discomfort and start getting active in a safe way, with small movements. Start decreasing the threat of movement with progressive exercises, safe environment and reassurance to recovering progressively the normal motion of your body.

When you feel ready, Pilates is an unparalleled, whole body-conditioning program. The Body Refinery offers a variety of different Pilates classes to help build:

  • Flexibility
  • Muscle strength
  • Endurance throughout the whole body
  • Postural alignment
  • Core strength and stability
  • Healthy breathing patterns, and
  • Improved coordination

If you want to move with strength, flexibility, power, vitality and ease, join our Brisbane Pilates studio. Going on holidays? Take your Pilates Instructor with you anytime… anywhere with The Body Refinery Online’s Studio – www.thebodyrefineryonline.com


HIIT Express Reformer pilates


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Take advantage of our intro offer: $200, 1 Month Trial. It includes:

To register your interest, contact us at info@thebodyrefinery.com.au or call 07 3358 3915

Mind the gap?  What’s more important: how much of your physio fee you can claim, or the quality of the healthcare?

Over the last few months, there has been a lot of discussion about the decision by all health funds to remove Pilates from their list of claimable health treatments, regardless of the qualification of the person taking the class. This will be effective from 1 April 2019.

The Australian Pilates Method Association (APMA) and Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA) have each written statements using language that has caused division between some Pilates teachers and physiotherapists who teach Pilates.

Physiotherapy and Pilates are very complementary to one another, and many physiotherapists also undertake training to become Pilates teachers. As both a physiotherapist and a Pilates teacher, with memberships to both the APA and the Pilates Alliance Australasia (PAA), I am torn on how to react.


The more I thought about it, I realised that there were bigger issues in play:

  1. Opting for “extras” cover increases your premiums, so it makes sense to want to make the most of it when it comes to claiming on health services.  However, I believe that this can be counterproductive when one’s approach to their own health is predominantly guided by what reimbursements they will receive from their health fund.  Health is important. You physiotherapist / dentist / optometrist / naturopath should be visited when you feel it is required… not just until your extras cover runs out for the year. Seeking healthcare treatment as you require it not only helps to keep your body in top form, it can also helps to ensure that any issues are addressed before your health starts deteriorating.  For example, when you invest in good physiotherapy treatment, your reward will be reduced pain and improved movement, which will benefit how you feel everyday, as well as your performance in physical activity.  
  2. Australia was identified as having the most efficient universal health care system of all the OECD countries, but this efficiency has come at a cost – namely that there are tight fiscal controls over what health treatments are covered by (or can be claimed from) Medicare and our private health insurance system. Everything is measured against an economic standard, rather than a quality of life standard.  As a result, health care providers in Australia are under increasing pressure from large economic structures, such as insurance companies, to provide “efficiencies that meet a short-term measurable outcome” rather than long-term outcomes. 
  3. When someone attends a Pilates session in Australia, they should have confidence in the instructor who is teaching them.  At present, there are no regulations defining the standard of training and experience that someone must have before they can call themselves a Pilates instructor or teacher.  I believe that regardless of whether that teacher has previous training in physiotherapy, exercise physiology, dance, or has recently decided to ditch their office job to work as a Pilates instructor, there should be tighter industry regulations regarding what standards must be met before someone can call themselves a Pilates instructor or teacher. This will help ensure that Pilates is only taught by people who have sufficient experience in how to teach Pilates safely and in accordance with the method, as created by Joseph Pilates.  Many people are surprised when they find out that some “Pilates instructors” have merely undertaken a weekend course. To properly understand the Pilates method and teach it safely, I believe that someone should only be allowed to call themselves a Pilates teacher once they have attained a comprehensive certification or recognised diploma-level qualification, which is typically an 18 month course that incorporates over 270 hours of practical learning along with many hours or work experience and observation.

rehabilitation health

The removal of Pilates as a claimable item is another example of health funds reducing the benefits that their members receive for the premiums they pay.

It also led me to contemplate why anyone would want a large profit-driven company guiding how they manage their own health? I believe that as a society, we need to shift our views on health and illness-prevention, starting with a rethink on the ingrained idea of only seeking healthcare or treatments where we can get money back. Everyone loves a bargain, but our health is all we have, and I believe that many people fall into the mindset that if they are receiving treatment from a healthcare professional, it’s “the norm” to receive a reimbursement when they pay for the service.

I strongly believe that anyone seeking healthcare should base their decision on the quality of the care they are receiving, and not limit themselves to seeing only those providers who facilitate a reimbursement of part of their fee.  Some people become so focused on claiming from their health fund that – if it means paying no “gap” – they will choose to see a mediocre healthcare provider rather than their own preferred healthcare provider.  Quality matters! One good physiotherapy treatment can be more beneficial than ten mediocre ones (and that’s before even considering the damage that can be done from a substandard treatment).

I know the value of a good physiotherapy treatment because many years ago I (unfortunately, and thankfully only briefly) worked for a physiotherapy practice that was largely focused on how many clients could be squeezed in per hour, rather than the health outcomes of those clients. I’m glad to say that it drove me to create a business that puts client health as the highest priority. I have, and will continue to, sacrifice profit in order to provide the best client care, by hiring the best professionals* and by providing clients with true one-on-one physiotherapy appointments and limiting the size of Pilates classes, so that clients receive sufficient feedback from their teachers.

And I’m not alone. Many independently-owned physiotherapy, Pilates, and other healthcare practices put the health of their clients ahead of profits. That’s not to say that physiotherapists working in a health fund-owned or large conglomerate-owned practice don’t have their clients’ best interest at heart, but the operators of the business may have a different focus.

Neurological conditions fall prevention
Experience and qualifications/training are important considerations when selecting your healthcare provider. A Pilates session taken by a Pilates teacher with 18 months’ training is likely to be superior to a Pilates session with a Physiotherapist who has done a weekend course.

Practices that place profit ahead of client care, may seek to cut costs by appointing novice health professionals to positions where they have little or no input from a mentor or senior supervisor. It is my view that there is no substitute for experience, and that even the best graduates need proper supervision in order to deliver proper care to clients and develop into exceptional healthcare professionals. Another example of profit-maximisation at the expense of client care is intentionally double- (or even triple-) booking clients, so that a physiotherapist must juggle clients, usually by leaving them for extended periods of time while they attend to one, or two, other clients who had bookings to see the same physiotherapist at the same time.

Most people who have extras cover through their health fund feel like they should only use providers that are approved by their health fund, so that they can claim part of the cost of the treatment. They’ve paid the health fund premiums, so why not make the most of what they can claim back? However, is this focus on cost-saving the right approach when it comes to health? When you weigh up the expense of the (seemingly ever-increasing) premiums against the claimable amount, is it actually cost-effective for you have extras cover? Also consider the value of your time – do you need to travel further to your health fund’s preferred provider?  Is their quality of service as good as a provider you would (if you didn’t have extras cover) otherwise seek out, based on recommendations from friends/colleagues? And if the quality of service isn’t as good, do you, therefore, require more appointments to reach your desired outcome?

incontinence The Body Refinery New Farm

Personally, when it comes to my (and my family’s) health, I want to choose the healthcare practice, and the individual professional, who looks after my spine / teeth / eyes.  

Many of my clients have come to us after experiencing very substandard treatment from a “preferred providers”, which they only went to for the sake of saving $7-$12. Everyone loves saving money where they can, but when it comes to healthcare it’s often the case that “you get what you pay for”.

The prevalence of health fund-owned healthcare providers and the health funds’ preferred providers is concerning; I would hate to imagine a future where my children can only see a healthcare professional that is either owned by or influenced by a health fund because all the passionate, independently-owned operators have been absorbed by health funds or run out of business. There will always be devoted healthcare individuals, because these people are passionate about working hard and ongoing learning, in order to provide the best client outcomes. However, I hope that there will always be equally passionate owners/employers who will support their dedicated team in achieving these client outcomes by only offering 1-on-1, hands-on treatment, and by fostering an environment of ongoing learning through the attendance of courses and workshops.

Regarding the Pilates industry specifically, I think there should be a greater focus on regulation. There are so many people (physiotherapists and instructors) calling themselves Pilates teachers after completing a weekend course. Even if someone is an excellent physiotherapist, exercise physiologist, personal trainer, ballet dancer or yoga instructor, I do not believe that the completion of a weekend Pilates course makes them a Pilates teacher. A weekend is not long enough to learn and experience the basics of Pilates.

Comprehensive training is essential for someone to become a Pilates teacher who can teach in an effective and safe manner. I would love to see the PAA and APMA work with the APA to properly regulate the Pilates industry. This could help to: define what qualifications are needed to be a Pilates instructor; help the public to better understand the Pilates method; and reduce the numbers of client injuries caused by “weekend course instructors” who advertise themselves as Pilates teachers. By working together to regulate the Pilates industry, the physiotherapist and Pilates industry bodies can both benefit… and more importantly ensure that clients receive the best care.


*Reference to Pilates instruction as a profession refers to Pilates instructors who are comprehensively trained or diploma qualified.

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Written by Susan Cottrell

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