Pilates is a form of exercise developed by Joseph Pilates in 1920's. Originally, it was used as a rehabilitation program for the prisoners of war but later on found to be of great importance to anyone seeking fitness. It emphasizes on the balanced development of the body through core strength and flexibility in order to support an efficient and graceful movement. Pilates is a mind body exercise program that is well recognized and taught worldwide for total coordination of body, mind and spirit.
It is known that proper balance between body and mind provides the physical and mental power that is crucial for achieving health and happiness. One of the best things about Pilates is that people of all age groups can perform it. Pilates is an adaptable method and can be easily modified at any level depending on the skills set and preference of an individual. Core strength is the foundation of the Pilates program and it can be performed with or without specific instrument. The core muscles include deep internal muscles of the abdomen and the back. When your core muscles are strong, they work in rhythm with the more superficial muscles of the trunk rendering the spine more flexibility.
Pathophysiology of Pilates
There are six underlying principles that laid the foundation of the Pilates program. The principles are centering, concentration, control, precision, breathing, and flow. These principles recognize the inter relationships between physical and cognitive processes to produce an outcome of increased life satisfaction, self-concept, and health.
- Centering: Bringing the focus to the centre of the body – apart between lower ribs and pubic bone.
- Concentration: To do the Pilate exercise with full attention and concentration to reap maximum benefit from each movement.
- Control: To do Pilate exercise with full muscular control. No part should be left behind.
- Precision: Awareness throughout each movement, and to do it accurately.
- Breathing: To use the full breathing in the Pilates exercise. Inhale and exhale to your maximum capacity.
- Flow: To do Pilates exercise in flowing manner. The energy of an exercise should connect all body parts and flow through the body in an even way.
Research on Pilates
Pilates for chronic low back pain
The summary of five reviews have found the inconclusive evidence that Pilates is effective in reducing pain and disability in people with chronic low back pain. This may be due to small number and poor methodological quality of the studies. However, another study has found that Pilates method is used to improve function and reduce pain, although there is little scientific evidence on it. Yet another study conducted on 31 female students found that the participants who received Pilates interventionwere better than the control group who did not receive any intervention. The Pilates based group showed a reduction in the degree of scoliosis (back pain) along with increased flexibility.
Effect of Pilate on sleep quality
A study was conducted to investigate the effects of an exercise program based on Pilates on sedentary volunteers on their sleep quality. The study found that sedentary population who participated in 12 week Pilates program experienced improvements in sleep quality and quality of life in general.
Effect of Pilates on obesity
A study explored the effects of eight week modern Pilates "mat and ball" exercise program on body mass, waist circumference, and waist to hip ratio in 58 sedentary and obese volunteer women. Eight weeks Pilates training program in the intervention group has been found to be effective on weight, body mass index, waist-hip ratio, fat percentage, basal metabolic rate and flexibility. The control group showed no significant differences post-intervention on the same measures.
Overall, based on the scientific evidence Pilates contribute to a healthy attitude including the relief from chronic back pain, obesity and better sleep quality andquality of life as a whole.
- Wells C, Kolt GS, Marshall P, Hill B, Bialocerkowski A. Effectiveness of Pilates exercise in treating people with chronic low back pain:a systematic review of systematic reviews. BMC medical research methodology. 2013;13:7. PubMed PMID: 23331384. Pubmed Central PMCID: 3563510.
- Leopoldino AA, Avelar NC, Passos GB, Jr., Santana NA, Jr., Teixeira VP, Jr., de Lima VP, et al. Effect of Pilates on sleep quality and quality of life of sedentary population. Journal of bodywork and movement therapies. 2013 Jan;17(1):5-10. PubMed PMID: 23294677.
- Miyamoto GC, Costa LO, Galvanin T, Cabral CM. Efficacy of the Addition of Modified Pilates Exercises to a Minimal Interven in Patients With Chronic Low Back Pain: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Physical therapy. 2012 Dec 13. PubMed PMID: 23064732
- Alves de Araujo ME, Bezerra da Silva E, Bragade Mello D, Cader SA, Shiguemi Inoue Salgado A, Dantas EH. The effectiveness of the Pilates method: reducing the degree of non-structural scoliosis, and improving flexibility and pain in female college students. Journal of bodywork and movement therapies. 2012 Apr;16(2):191-8. PubMed PMID: 22464116.
- Cakmakci O. The effect of 8 week pilates exercise on body composition in obese women. Collegium antropologicum.2011 Dec;35(4):1045-50. PubMed PMID: 22397236.