If you are looking for a functional form of exercise that can help improve strength, balance, and flexibility without worsening pain or fatigue then look no further than Pilates. It is a comprehensive system that also includes light muscle resistance training in addition to performing efficient and balanced movements while building a strong central core. Because the goal of Pilates is to exercise all muscle groups symmetrically, the risk for muscle fatigue or injury is very low.
Can Pilates be effective for someone with Fibromyalgia? Absolutely. In one study, fifty women who had been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia were randomized into two different treatment groups. The first group underwent Pilates training for 60 minutes three times a week for a duration of twelve weeks. The control group was given a home exercise program. At twelve weeks, the group receiving the Pilates training noted a significant improvement in pain as well as a reduction of tender points. They also noted an overall improvement in quality of life compared to the control group. At the 24 week mark, the group who had received the Pilates training did not notice a difference in pain but did have a sustained reduction in tender points and overall life quality compared to the control group. The authors concluded that Pilates was safe and effective in the treatment of Fibromyalgia. The difference in the pain reduction for the group receiving Pilates at 12 and 24 weeks may have been simply that the Pilates treatment stopped at 12 weeks. They experienced a reduction in pain while they were doing the Pilates training.
Fibromyalgia is associated with back pain and chronic pelvic pain. Pilates is also effective in treating low back pain, strengthening the pelvic musculature and improving the stability and flexibility of the pelvic ligaments. Consider adding Pilates to your treatment regimen.
by Rich Snyder, DO
- Altan L, Korkmaz et al. “Effect of pilates training on people with fibromyalgia syndrome: a pilot study.” Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. 2009 Dec;90(12):1983-8.
- Phrompaet S, Paungmali S et al. “Effects of pilates training on lumbo-pelvic stability and flexibility.” Asian Journal of Sports Medicine. 2011 Mar;2(1):16-22.
- Rydeard R, Leger A et al. “Pilates-based therapeutic exercise: effect on subjects with nonspecific chronic low back pain and functional disability: a randomized controlled trial.” Journal of Orthopedic and Sports Physical Therapy. 2006 Jul;36(7):472-84.
- Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/carollunetta/6365704555