Does a Program of Pilates Improve Chronic Non-Specific Low Back Pain?

in Journal of Sport Rehabilitation
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To evaluate the effect of a program of modified Pilates for active individuals with chronic non-specific low back pain.


A single blind randomized controlled trial.


49 individuals with chronic low back pain were randomly allocated to control (n = 24) or Pilates group (n = 25). Thirty-four individuals completed the study (14 and 20 individuals for control and Pilates group, respectively).


The Pilates group undertook a six week program of Pilates. Both groups continued with normal activity.

Main Outcome Measures:

An assessor blinded to group allocation conducted functional and questionnaire-based assessments pre- and post- intervention.


Improvements were seen in the Pilates group post- intervention period with increases (P < 0.05) in general health, sports functioning, flexibility, proprioception, and a decrease in pain. The control group showed no significant differences in the same measures post- intervention.


These data suggest that Pilates used as a specific core stability exercise incorporating functional movements can improve non-specific chronic low back pain in an active population compared to no intervention. Additionally, Pilates can improve general health, pain level, sports functioning, flexibility, and proprioception in individuals with chronic low back pain.

Valerie Gladwell is with the Centre for Sport and Exercise Science and the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Essex in Colchester, UK. Email: Samantha Head is with Physiotherapy, Department of Health and Human Sciences at the University of Essex. Martin Haggar is with the Department of Psychology at the University of Nottingham, UK. Ralph Beneke is with the Centre for Sport and Exercise Science, Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Essex.

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