Effectiveness of Mat Pilates or Equipment-Based Pilates Exercises in Patients With Chronic Nonspecific Low Back Pain

The Pilates method has been widely employed to treat chronic low back pain. Pilates exercises can be performed in two ways: by using specific equipment or without it (also known as mat Pilates), however there are not any studies that compared the effectiveness of mat Pilates to equipment-based Pilates. The aim of this study was to compare the effectiveness of mat Pilates to equipment-based Pilates in patients with chronic non-specific low back pain. At a private physical therapy clinic in Brazil,  eighty-six patients with chronic non-specific low back pain participated in a two-arm randomized controlled trial with a blinded assessor. The patients were placed at random into two groups: mat Pilates group (n=43) and equipment-based group (n=43). The patients of both groups attended 12 Pilates sessions over a period of 6 weeks. The primary outcomes were pain intensity and disability. The secondary outcomes were global perceived effect, patient’s specific disability, and kinesiophobia. A blinded assessor evaluated the outcomes at baseline and 6 weeks and 6 months after randomization. After 6 months, there was a statistically significant difference for disability (mean difference = 3.0 points, 95% CI = 0.6 to 5.4), specific disability (mean difference = -1.1 points, 95% CI = -2.0 to -0.1) and kinesiophobia (mean difference = 4.9 points, 95% CI = 1.6 to 8.2) in favor of equipment-based Pilates. No differences were found for the remaining outcomes.


This study found equipment-based Pilates to be superior to mat Pilates in the 6 months follow-up for the outcomes disability and kinesiophobia. These benefits weren’t observed for pain intensity and global perceived effect in patients with chronic non-specific low back pain.

Physical activity programme

A series of five online courses that comprehensively explore physical activity and the related role of physiotherapy / physical therapy