Q & A with Samantha Wood – Pilates for Injuries & Pathologies

by Anthony Lett

Director of Advanced Education, Anthony Lett sat down for an interview with BASI presenter, Samantha Wood regarding his upcoming workshop, Pilates for Injuries & Pathologies. Check it out!

ANTHONY: Thanks for joining me Sam. I want to learn more about your course, and I am sure many Pilates teachers do to, because it is such an important one for our industry. Pilates seems to have become a form of therapy to some extent, in both a prophylactic sense, and as a remedial therapy for injury. Does your course cover aspects for teachers whose work is mostly health and wellbeing oriented, and more clinically based?

SAMANTHA: We all know that the success of Pilates is partially due to the positive effect we make on individuals who come to us seeking improvement of minor aches/pains/injuries. Sometimes we are able to determine their problems are postural or due to mis-alignment. However, it is a fact that Pilates Studios are seeing more and more cases of a rehabilitative nature.

This course is the product of my 18 years’ experience as a physical therapist and my study of Pilates with my mentor, Rael. I have witnessed, both first-hand and through research, that Pilates, when used appropriately, can be a highly effective tool for therapeutic purposes. Pilates exercises and principles can help patients recover from injuries and surgery, as well as optimize function in those suffering from chronic conditions.


ANTHONY: What are some of the topics covered?

SAMANTHA: The course covers commonly encountered injuries and pathologies in each region of the body (lumbar spine, cervical spine, shoulder complex, hip, knee, ankle & foot). For example, in the lumbar spine section I cover disc pathologies, osteoarthritis, stenosis, spondylolisthesis, sacroiliac joint dysfunction and postural syndrome. We discuss the definitions, causes, contributing factors and symptoms of each condition; however the focus is on how we as Pilates professionals, can contribute to our clients’ wellbeing by correctly selecting exercises and at times avoiding exercises and ranges of motion.

ANTHONY: Is the course for teachers of any lineage/training background?


ANTHONY: I’m sure some teachers will find the whole pathoanatomy subject a little scary. Is there a way that you can simplify it to make it more accessible for those who don’t necessarily have an advanced anatomy background?

SAMANTHA: Yes Anthony! And this is exactly why I created the course! Many Pilates professionals have expressed to me over the years that they do not have a medical background and often lack a clear understanding of injuries and pathologies. They long for practical explanations and exercise suggestions regarding work with injured clients. My course strives to provide just that, and based on the feedback I have received over the years, does so.

ANTHONY: I’m sure the subject of “contra-indications” is one that you spend time on, because of course we all want to follow the Hippocratic Oath in our studios too. We all strive to “do no harm,” but is it difficult to talk about all the possible contraindications? How do you approach this?

SAMANTHA: Yes you are correct, knowledge and understanding of contraindications is very important. The last thing we want to do is make the client’s condition or injury worse! And in some cases, Osteoporosis for example, there are so many contraindications that it can seem overwhelming. So although I think it is crucial that instructors know the precautions and/or contraindications for each condition, my approach is to focus on what the client CAN do.


ANTHONY: Is there much focus on repertoire, and how to adjust or simplify it for various conditions? Can you give us an example?

SAMANTHA: Yes there is a huge focus on repertoire and how exercises can be modified for certain conditions. For example, Scooter is a wonderful Full Body Integration exercise. However, if a client has an acute disc condition, deep lumbar flexion should be avoided so this exercise can be performed in a flat back positon, focusing more on activation of the glutes. Another client with spondylolisthesis must avoid spinal extension, so the exercise can be performed focusing on lumbar flexion throughout. 

ANTHONY: How would you summarize the take home messages of your certificate course?

SAMANTHA: While it is certainly not my intention to convert Pilates instructors into Physical Therapists or encourage them in any way to function outside their scope of practice, there are common conditions that a Pilates teacher will inevitably encounter – and it is necessary to understand them, and if appropriate, know how to deal with them. It can be intimidating to be faced with a client who has an injury or disease that you as a Pilates instructor do not understand. You may feel uncertain about what you can do to help the client, and very importantly what not to do to avoid exacerbating the condition. It is our goal, as Pilates instructors, not only to help our clients feel better every time they walk out of our studios, but to enable them to function free of pain (or with as little pain as possible). This course is designed to equip you with the information and understanding you need to achieve this goal.

ANTHONY: Where have you presented so far Sam?

SAMANTHA: I started teaching the course at BASI HQ in Costa Mesa in 2010. Since then I have presented in Denver, Santa Cruz (Aptos), Virginia, Philadelphia, Vancouver, Montreal, Athens, Florence, Australia (Maroochydore, Sydney and Hobart), Sao Paulo, Buenos Aires, South Africa (Pretoria and Cape Town), Tokyo, Hong Kong, and Munich. This summer I am looking forward to presenting in Spain, London and Italy. And I am excited to get to return to Australia this November!



Register now for Pilates for Injuries and Pathologies!

May 29 – 31, 2015 : DARTE Pilates Marbella, Spain

June 12 – 15, 2015: The Pilates Clinic

November 13 – 15, 2015: Master Pilates South Yarra

February 6-8, 2016: Tsawwassen Wellness Centre, Pilates & Health



One Response to “Q & A with Samantha Wood – Pilates for Injuries & Pathologies”

  1. Janetta says:

    This course looks fantastic – just what I need as a fairly recently qualified Pilates instructor. Do you have any London dates coming up?

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