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Pilates Method Used to Treat Low Back Pain

Pilates is a form of exercise that has become popular in the United States. Many people are using it to treat their low back pain (LBP). This Canadian/Hong Kong study looks at how well Pilates works with a group of 39 adults who have chronic LBP.

Pilates was named for its founder and inventor, Joseph H. Pilates. As a form of exercise, the Pilates method became very popular with dancers in the early 1930s. It was rediscovered and gained popularity with dancers in the 1980s. Most recently, the Pilates craze has been joined by millions of Americans.

The key features of Pilates exercise are:
  • Breath control
  • Muscle (motor) control
  • Strengthening of the back and abdominal muscles
  • Improved posture and spinal alignment

    In this study, specific Pilates exercises were used to activate the gluteus maximus (buttocks) muscle. Pain intensity and function were used to measure the results. A control group was compared to the exercise group. The control group saw a doctor or physical therapist as needed but did not do Pilates exercises.

    The exercise group did a Pilates program three times a week for four weeks. Each one-hour session was designed and supervised by a physical therapist. The patient group also did a 15-minute home program six days a week during that same four-week period of time.

    Patients in the exercise group got fast results. After months of chronic pain, the reduced pain and improved function motivated them to do their home program. Improved control of the lumbar-pelvis muscles was credited for the success. Pilates appears to be an effective tool to treat nonspecific LBP.

    The authors are unsure if the effects were due to the clinic-based or the home-based program. Future studies are needed to find out which exercise program works best.

    Rochenda Rydeard, PT, MSc, et al. Pilates-Based Therapeutic Exercise: Effect on Subjects with Nonspecific Chronic Low Back Pain and Functional Disability: A Randomized Controlled Trial. In Spine. July 2006. Vol. 36. No. 7. Pp. 472-484.


    *Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.
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