October/November 2015 (vol. 12/3)

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Pilates for back pain

Pilates is commonly used to improve physical fitness and wellbeing – and is often delivered in workplaces. This Cochrane systematic review of 10 randomised controlled trials on adults with acute, sub-acute or chronic nonspecific low back pain (LBP) finds low-quality evidence that pilates delivered in primary- or tertiary-care settings reduces pain compared with minimal-intervention controls at short-term follow-up (less than three months), with two trials showing reduced pain after intermediate follow-up (between three and 12 months). There is also low-quality evidence that the technique reduces disability score compared with minimal-intervention controls. However, there was no evidence that pilates performs better than other more general exercises in any of the measures – a meta-analysis of three trials found no significant difference in short- or intermediate-term disability scores. None of the studies measured return-to-work times from LBP-related absence, and none reported long-term outcomes.

Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 2015; 7: CD010265. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD010265.pub2


Occupational Health at Work October/November 2015 (vol. 12/3) pp34