Pilates Breathing and the Core

By Shirley Archer, JD, MA
May 5, 2017

Pilates breathing techniques not only provide training benefits during Pilates exercises, but also can be a beneficial practice when lifting heavier objects. Korean researchers at Cheongju University in Cheongju, Republic of Korea, wanted to determine the functional value of Pilates breathing exercises and core stabilization.

Researchers conducted the study with 28 healthy adult females and collected data on muscle recruitment of trunk stabilizer muscles [transversus abdominis, internal obliques, multifidus] and the rectus abdominis and erector spinae during exercises and while lifting a 10 kilogram dumbbell from the floor to a standing position. Then, for 60 minutes per session, three times a week for 2 weeks, Pilates instructors trained the participants, who laid on their backs, only in Pilates breathing exercises. Investigators then collected the same muscle recruitment information. Data analysis showed significant improvement in activation of trunk stabilizer muscles, but not in the rectus abdominis or erector spinae, from the short-term breathing training. Study authors concluded that “the use of Pilates breathing can more effectively increase activities of the muscles during trunk stabilizing exercises. Moreover, performing Pilates breathing during lifting tasks can prevent potential injuries by increasing muscle activities” More research is recommended.

The study is published in the Journal of Physical Therapy Science (2017; 29, 194-197).


Shirley Archer, JD, MA

Shirley Archer, JD, MA, is the 2008 IDEA Fitness Instructor of the Year and is IDEA's mind-body-spirit spokesperson. She is a certified yoga and Pilates teacher and an award-winning author based in Los Angeles, California, and Zurich, Switzerland. Two of her books, The Walking Deck and The Strength and Toning Deck, are now featured as iPhone apps. Contact her at www.shirleyarcher.com.

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