Effects of pilates specific exercise on posture

Por: A. Tripolitsioti, Apostolos Stergioulas e M. Stergioula.

Athens 2004: Pre-olympic Congress

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Posture is the arrangement of the body parts in relation to each other, to the body as a whole and to gravity. Good posture is a necessary component for both health-related and skill-related physical fitness [1]. Bad posture breaks the gravity line and causes muscles asymmetries. If the subject does not regain kinesthetic or body awareness, will suffer from cervical or lumbar spine problems that arise from the changes in biomechanics of the spine [2].     

Pilates body conditioning is one of the most popular forms of exercise, now days. Concentration, control, centering flowing movements, precision and breathing are the basic principles. Pilates believed that focusing the mind and body together is allowed for the movement to become easy and efficient in order to eliminate poor movement patterns. Attention to the detail of movement allows more correction of postural problems, muscular imbalances, and neuromuscular patterning (Pilates, 1998). Pilates corrective posture program includes except from breathing, the re-education of the proprioception and strengthening the kinesthetic sense of good alignment and awareness of the body in space, by decreasing unnecessary tension. The purpose is to enhance coordination and efficiency, increase the balance, strength and flexibility, while relieving from unusual pain [3].


The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of specific Pilates postural re­education exercises on the standing posture of 31 women between the ages 45-54 y, randomly selected and acting as Pilates group (n=17)  and the rest (14) as control group. These women were members of Athens Municipality gyms. The Portland State University Posture Analysis Form (PSU PAF [4] ), a force platform and a tape measure were used to measure postural alignment, postural sway and height, before and after treatment sessions. Subjects completed a subjective questionnaire. Controls rested in supine posture during the treatment session, while the exercise group performed of specific Pilates re-education exercises [3]. It is hypothesized that the subjects participating in Pilates training, would improve the tested parameters.


After Pilates postural re­education exercises and results analysis by unpaired t-test, a significant improvement in the Pilates group were observed: i) in PSU PAF scores in two of the six tested variables: in neck (t=3.02, p<0. 005) and in the head (t=2.86, p<0. 01), ii) in the measure of the anterior-posterior shear force (hip sway), both with closed (t=1.93, p<0.05) and  open eyes (t=2.65, p<0.01) and iii) in the height (t= 3.17, p<0.005). 

Discussion, Conclusion

The principal objective of this study was to determine whether Pilates spesific posture exercises could improve posture sway, height and posture alignment of the women. McMillan et al [5] investigated the  effect of Pilates-based training on dancers’ dynamic posture and found a significant improvement in the exercise group. Tripolitsioti et al [6] in another study examined if the Pilates training could improve strength of lower abdominals and found significant differences in the strength of these muscles, that were measured with Kendall test. Similarly Tripolitsioti et al [7] showed, that six months of Pilates training improved body posture of school-aged children that had postural deviations. All Pilates postural re­education exercises emphasized on segmental displacements while maintaining the spine in neutral position. This allowed to the women to develop better motor control and to recognize and correct the faulty schemata. Also it is believed that these exercises helped the participants to optimize their use of vestibular, visual and kinaesthetic information to maintain proper balance. In conclusion, these results scientifically confirm the aspect that Pilates exercises contribute to the posture and balance. 



[1]. Kentall FP, Kentall-MacGreary E and Provance P (1993). 4th Ed. Williams and Wilkins.

[2]. Stergioulas A & Tsiganos G. (1992). Prevention of low back pain (Athens. In Greek).

[3]. Pilates JH (1998). Presentations Dyn Inc.,USA.  

[4]. Althof SA., Heyden SM, Robertson LD. (1988b). Journal of Physical Education, Recreation and Dance, 59 (8), 26 - 32.

[5]. McMillan A, Proteau L, Lebe RM ( 1998). J dance-medic science (Andover) 2(3): 8,101-107.

[6]. Tripolitsioti A, Sakellariou K, Stergioulas A (2001). 6th Annual Congress of ECSS, Cologne 24-28 July, p. 809

[7]. Tripolitsioti A, Sakellariou K, Stergioulas A (2001). 6th Annual Congress of ECSS, Cologne 24-28 July p. 810.







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