by Shirley Archer, JD, MA
A new study adds to growing research support for Pilates as a helpful exercise method for people with chronic low-back pain (LBP).
Researchers from Bari, Italy, evaluated the effects on 60 LBP patients (average age, 51) of either practicing Pilates mat work or doing no exercise. The purpose was to determine whether regular participation in Pilates would influence pain and disability levels for people with LBP. The Pilates group practiced 5 days per week for 6 months under the supervision of an instructor who individualized exercises for each participant. Investigators collected data before the intervention and after 6 months.
Pilates participants improved in physical and social functioning, general health and vitality, and experienced decreases in disability and pain. In contrast, control group members worsened in all categories.
Concluding that supervised Pilates sessions improved LBP, study authors recommended that future research identify the specific exercise quantity that would help most. The study was limited by its small sample size and the fact that the trial was not randomized or blinded, meaning participants in the Pilates group chose to exercise.
The findings appeared in the European Journal of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine (2013; 49, 1–8).