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The Effects of Pilates on Posture and Flexibility

1 May 2002


Background and Purpose. Professionals in therapeutic and fitness settings advocate that education on proper postural alignment, postural strengthening, and flexibility can be used as a preventative tool against secondary impairments. However, despite the interest in posture and the popularity of advocating exercise as a preventative tool, there is a lack of adequate research in clinical outcomes supporting the causality of poor postural habits in relation to secondary sequalae. One of the philosophies being used is a form of exercise known as Pilates. Although Pilates has been used therapeutically in dancers and gymnasts, the efficacy of Pilates as a restorative tool in ,normal populations has yet to be proven. The purpose of this study was to explore the impact of the Pilates Method on posture and flexibility. Methods. Subjects were assessed pre and post a Pilates exercise program in the following components: standing height, natural head posture and cervical excursion, spinal curvature, and hamstring flexibility. Results. Of the ten subjects originally enrolled, 'only two completed the 30 session requirement to be included for analysis. Due to the paucity of subjects, only descriptive statistics were calculated. Both subjects decreased their cervical excursion, and one subject increased hamstring flexibility and natural head posture after 30 sessions of Pilates. Discussion and Conclusion. Due to the small number of subjects who completed our study, no definitive conclusions can be made as to whether a Pilates exercise program can improve posture and flexibility. Future studies will need to ensure retention by using better recruitment strategies such as enhanced advertising, compensation, or participation incentives. Additional research is needed to determine the effects of Pilates on posture and flexibility.


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