Updated: Jan 26
Over the years there have been many claims about the Pilates method, some of the claims have not been substantiated in the research. But as time progresses further investigation into the Pilates method has shown some promising effects for some areas of physical activity. A relatively new study has looked at using the Pilates method for reducing blood pressure in middle aged individuals who may not have a regularly active lifestyle. The study had a small group of individuals from ages 45-65 involved, and after one session of Pilates it did show a reduction in blood pressure which is an exciting start for research for acutely lowering blood pressure in a single session. But you need to put this study in perspective in determining if you want to add in other options like walking which has been shown to help lower blood pressure when done on a regular basis which would certainly compliment the Pilates.
Another study which looked at muscle strength, gait speed and body composition in older women showed an improvement in both muscle strength and gait speed in walking but no changes in body composition which I believe is understandable as body composition can be affected by many factors including lifestyle, age, genetics, stress, medication and hydration. There are some studies that have shown some changes in body composition when doing Pilates, but further research is required in this area.
Pilates has also been used in helping people with back pain and some evidence can be seen that Pilates may have an influence on back pain but no conclusive research. Recent advances in pain science shows that back pain is not a pure biomechanical problem, as pain is generated via the brain and several factors like biopsychosocial and social factors may also be an influence on pain. Pain is also not an accurate measure of damaged tissue.
Balance has also been improved through the practice of Pilates for older people and a reduction in falls. Research has shown that Pilates can be a great exercise method for improving balance. Balance can be affected by different factors including strength, vestibular and the vision system, awareness of body movement, the feet, medication, and medical conditions. The feet are affected by how well they connect with the floor, and even how they pick up information through the nerves on the bottom of the feet to work the muscles legs. Neuro insoles have been developed to help stimulate these nerves on the bottom of the feet which have been seen then to improve balance.
Working to improve movement, health and function the Pilates method has provided a great system to help many people. There have been many variations of the Pilates method over the years. More recently varieties of basic mat Pilates movements have been used to enable people to start their exercise routine from their current ability.
Pilates can be a great compliment to other types of exercise and can also help with daily activities.