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Pilates: Pathophysiology, Research, And Effect

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Pilates: Pathophysiology, Research And More ~ IControlMyHealth

Introduction of Pilates

Pilates is a form of exercise developed by Joseph Pilates in the 1920s. Originally, it was used as a rehabilitation program for prisoners of war but later on found to be of great importance to anyone seeking fitness.

It emphasizes the balanced development of the body through core strength and flexibility in order to support an efficient and graceful movement. It 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 it is that people of all age groups can perform it.

It is an adaptable method and can be easily modified at any level depending on the skill set and preference of an individual. Core strength is the foundation of it program and it can be performed with or without specific instruments.

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 flexible.

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 interrelationships between physical and cognitive processes to produce an outcome of increased life satisfaction, self-concept, and health.

1. Centering:

  • Bringing the focus to the center of the body – apart between the lower ribs and pubic bone.

2. Concentration:

  • To do the Pilate exercise with full attention and concentration to reap maximum benefit from each movement.

3. Control:

  • To do Pilate exercises with full muscular control. No part should be left behind.

4. Precision:

  • Awareness throughout each movement, and doing it accurately.

5. Breathing:

  • To use full breathing in the Pilates exercise. Inhale and exhale to your maximum capacity.

6. Flow:

  • To do Pilates exercises in a 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 has found inconclusive evidence that It is effective in reducing pain and disability in people with chronic low back pain. This may be due to the small number and poor methodological quality of the studies.

However, another study has found that the Pilates method is used to improve function and reduce pain, although there is little scientific evidence for it.

Yet another study conducted on 31 female students found that the participants who received Pilates intervention were 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 the sedentary population who participated in 12 weeks 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 weeks of 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 of 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 contributes to a healthy attitude including relief from chronic back pain, and obesity, and better sleep quality and quality of life as a whole.


  1. 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.
  2. 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 the sedentary population. Journal of bodywork and movement therapies. 2013 Jan;17(1):5-10. PubMed PMID: 23294677.
  3. 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
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. http://pilates.about.com/od/whatispilates/a/WhatIsPilates.htm.

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