Detailed guides to painful problems, treatments & more

Not good enough, Pilates

 •  • by Paul Ingraham
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Weekly nuggets of pain science news and insight, usually 100-300 words, with the occasional longer post. The blog is the “director’s commentary” on the core content of a library of major articles and books about common painful problems and popular treatments. See the blog archives or updates for the whole site.

It is a widely and passionately held belief that back and abdominal strengthening will help back pain, and Pilates is the branded exercise system dedicated to core strengthening, so Pilates must be good for back pain, right? But in a recent test by Miyamoto et al, patients who did Pilates had “small benefits” compared to those who did not. And the test had a serious flaw: it neglected to compare Pilates to other any other kind of activity (shamefully sloppy design, fairly junky science). These results only add to the pile of evidence that exercise and therapeutic attention of any kind are probably good for low back pain. It’s only worth reporting these results insofar as they damn Pilates with the faintest possible praise — evidence that Pilates has no special power over back pain. I am not even a tiny bit surprised by this.

“Efficacy of the Addition of Modified Pilates Exercises to a Minimal Intervention in Patients With Chronic Low Back Pain: A Randomized Controlled Trial”
Miyamoto et al. Physical Therapy. Volume 93, Number 3, 310–20. Mar 2013.