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Pilates and Chronic Lower-Back Pain

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More evidence has emerged that Pilates can help people with chronic lower-back pain. Patients with this condition who practiced Pilates twice a week for 50 minutes over a 90-day period experienced improvements in pain, function and quality of life compared with patients with similar pain who did no exercises. Researchers from Universidade Federal de São Paulo, in São Paulo, conducted the study with 60 patients who suffered from chronic nonspecific lower-back pain. They split into two groups: an experimental group and a control group. Members of both groups continued treatment with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. The only difference was involvement in the Pilates program.

Investigators collected data on pain, function, quality of life, satisfaction with treatment, flexibility and intake of NSAIDs at baseline and after 45, 90 and 180 days. Results showed that Pilates participants improved in pain, function and quality of life and used less pain medication. There were no statistically significant differences in flexibility or in satisfaction with treatment.

Emphasizing that no subjects experienced any harmful effects from Pilates, the study authors recommended further research. The study appeared in Clinical Rehabilitation (2014; doi: 10.1177/0269215514538981).

Shirley Eichenberger-Archer, JD, MA

Shirley Archer, JD, MA, is an internationally acknowledged integrative health and mindfulness specialist, best-selling author of 16 fitness and wellness books translated into multiple languages and sold worldwide, award-winning health journalist, contributing editor to Fitness Journal, media spokesperson, and IDEA's 2008 Fitness Instructor of the Year. She's a 25-year industry veteran and former health and fitness educator at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, who has served on multiple industry committees and co-authored trade books and manuals for ACE, ACSM and YMCA of the USA. She has appeared on TV worldwide and was a featured trainer on America's Next Top Model.

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