6 Awesome Benefits Of Pilates In Arthritis [UPDATED]

There are over 100 types of arthritis known.

Several types of arthritis can be broadly clubbed into two types of arthritis: osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

One of the best-known remedies for the disease is exercise. Proper physical activity helps in maintaining flexibility, muscle strength and bodily movements.

One such moderate form of exercise which has shown great promise in relieving symptoms of arthritis is Pilates.

This article discusses the efficacy of Pilates in monitoring disease symptoms in arthritis.

What is Pilates?

Pilates refers to a physical fitness system which was anticipated to strengthen the body and improve mental health.

It is named after its discoverer Joseph Pilates. It was developed in Germany in the early 20th century.

Joseph Pilates believed that mental and physical health are positively correlated and improvement in one will introduce an improvement in other.

Joseph Pilates in his book Return to Life through Contrology mentioned the art of controlled movements.

It is similar to Yoga exercises. Pilate moves involves the entire body but are more concentrated on movement related to lower back, thigh, butt, abdomen, and knees.

Appropriate regular use of Pilates provides flexibility, strength, balance, good posture and enhances movement.

The book Pilates Method of Physical and Mental Conditioning published in 1980 outlined the six principles of Pilates. The six famous principles are concentration, flow, precision, breathing, control, and center.

Out of these six principles, control or Contrology gained maximum popularity. This idea basically focuses on controlling the movement of the body.

6 Awesome Benefits Of Pilates In Arthritis

ThePilate exercise trains the entire body.

It is not necessary that only the joint affected by arthritis is exercised.

The whole body needs exercise as there is no guarantee that arthritis will not affect the other parts.

1. It reduces pain

Various studies have been done to evaluate the effect of Pilates method in people with chronic low back pain.

They found that these exercises are similar to generic lumbar exercises.

These studies suggest that Pilates exercise are more effective than minimal physical exercises in reducing disability and pain over a short period of time.

The study further states that the Pilates method help in treating chronic pain but what all exercises actually treat pain is still under study.

A randomized, prospective study done by the Rehabilitation Department and Rheumatologic Pediatric Department of Brazil showed a positive correlation between Pilates exercises and physical and psychosocial health.

What does this mean? Pilates exercises significantly reduce pain, especially in low back pain region. It is more effective than the physical exercises.

2. It improves joint function

Another study reveals that two sessions per week of 30-60 minutes duration for 3-6 month considerably improved low back pain condition.

The main benefit of Pilates is to improve the flexibility of stiff joints.

The proper motion caused by these exercises stimulates the production of synovial fluid and enhances the lubrication at joints.

This prevents wear and tear of joints and hence reduces pain and provides motion to joints.

What does this mean? The Pilates exercises enhance lubrication of joints which further reduces friction between joints. This helps the in smooth motion of joints.

3. It benefits in fibromyalgia

A study published in Springer with 25 pilates exercises on Fibromyalgia syndrome represent similar findings.

Fibromyalgia is a condition which is characterized by pain, fatigue, cognitive dysfunction which distorts the quality of life.

Pilates exercises are highly recommended to regain muscle strength and relief in pain.

What does this mean? Pilate exercises provide therapeutic benefits in treating fibromyalgia over physical exercises.

4. It benefits in juvenile idiopathic arthritis

Juvenile idiopathic arthritis is an auto-immune, non-infectious joint disease with inflammation of synovium in joints.

It affects children below 16 years.

Pilates exercise was given an intervention in one arm and compared with placebo in other arms.

Well performed Pilates exercises have shown benefits to Juvenile idiopathic arthritis patients. It has helped in significantly reducing pain and improved motion of the joint.

What does this mean? Children suffering from Juvenile idiopathic arthritis can be benefitted the by regular use of pilates exercises as it reduces pain and improves movement of joint.

5. It helps in weight loss

It also helps in reducing own weight.

It is already known that obesity puts extra loads on the knees.

While performing Pilate exercise for appropriate time may reduce weight and further prevent arthritis.

Pilates has also been found to be effective in improving weight discharge in gait and also significantly reduces pain as compared to placebo or not interested .

Various studies have also shown that non- specific back pain can be treated by Pilates exercises.

What does this means? Pilates exercise help in reducing body fat and avoid extra burden on knees. Hence, by controlling risk factors, it controls arthritis.

6. It improves metabolic health and reduces cardiac risks

Several researches have also shown that Pilates study have been beneficial in improving musculoskeletal system and nervous system.

It was found that performing these exercises thrice a week for a duration of 40 minutes for 12 weeks helps in regaining balance and stability in females.

Few studies have shown that no effect of Pilates exercise on systolic and diastolic blood pressure can be observed within 4 weeks.

But few studies also argue mat exercises of Pilate improves blood pressure and reduces BMI significantly.

What does this means? The regular use of Pilates exercise help in lowering BMI. Equivocal results are available on whether the Pilates exercise helps reduce risk of cardio-vascular diseases or not.

3 Awesome Pilates exercise techniques for arthritis

There are two forms of Pilates: Equipment based Pilates and Mat based Pilates (see next sections for more details)

Oblique sit up

This oblique sit-up exercise is a vital way of strengthening the abdominal muscles. It also provides strength to calf muscles and gives the flat stomach.

Lay flat on the mat with hips lying parallel to the ground. Fingers are crossed behind the ear and head.

One elbow is raised towards the opposite knee without lifting the arms. Don’t apply too much pressure on the neck if the pain in the neck.

The hip roll

This is a very simple and easy exercise.

It increases the motion around hip joint

. The muscles of the hip and surrounding area are strengthened. It reduces the risk of osteoarthritis in hip.

The initial positions may be painful in an unrelated area like lower back and knees.

Lie parallel to the floor, stomach facing the mat. Hands are to be placed on the forehead, one leg is perpendicular to the floor, keeping the other leg straight.

The lunge

It is an exercise to strengthen quadriceps, knees and hips. This exercise improves arthritis around the knee and hips.

Touch the right heel inside of the left foot in such a way that right knee should be facing to the right.

Now the right leg is moved out diagonally with a wide stance so that the body comes in the lunge position. This will move the

This will move the bent leg at a perpendicular angle. Arms are brought in front, next to the ears. This brings the body in a diagonal line.

How to perform Pilates?

Pilates involves 6 basic principles. These are:

  1. Centering
  2. Control
  3. Flow
  4. Breath
  5. Precision
  6. Concentration

Quality is emphasized in Pilates than quantity.

Usually, the Pilates exercise does not include a lot of repetitions of the exercise. But the rather proper execution of the exercise with precision is of utmost importance.

Core muscle (i.e. muscle of the back and abdomen are essential for Pilates. Regular Pilates exercise ensures the building of these core muscles and thus relieves back pain in the process.

Pilates could be performed in aerobic or non-aerobic form. Focus and concentration is required to perform the exercises with complete precision.

The stretching and lengthening of major muscles must be performed slowly with proper rhythm and breathing pattern. The motive of Pilates is not to exhaust the doer.

It just requires performance of a series of exercises with low repetitions for about 45 to 90 minutes.

There are two forms of Pilates

Equipment Based Pilates: This could be performed using specially designed equipment to provide resistance to the body movements thus helping in muscle toning.

The main parts of a Pilates equipment include – the

The main parts of a Pilates equipment include – the Reformer, Cadillac and Wunda Chair.

Mat-Based Pilates: This form is designed to enable performing the exercise without any specific equipment.

This is performed just on a mat and its main aim is to improve balance, posture and muscle strength.

Usually, elastic bands or gym ball could be used during this form of Pilates to provide needed support and resistance.

There is no report as to which form of Pilates is better for the patients. It basically depends on personal preference and comfort.

Steps in a Pilate exercise

A usual Pilates exercise would include the following steps :

Step 1: Simple warm-up exercises prior to the Pilates regimen. This warm-up includes Pelvic curl, double leg stretch, single leg stretch, criss-cross or roll-up.

Step 2: First set of exercise include the exercise of major muscle groups including hips, legs, shoulders, trunk, chest, and arms. These include Roll-up top loaded~Cadillac, Walking~Cadillac, Bicycles~Cadillac etc

Step 3: Performance of all the exercise in a controlled manner with precision. Using the proper breathing technique is also mandatory during performing Pilates.

Step 4: Normal Stretching exercises must be performed thereafter

Step 5: Cool down exercises must be performed in the end.
During the normal Pilates regime, both sides of the joint muscles have to be exercised in a balanced fashion.

How is Pilates different from Yoga?

Usually, people might get confused between yoga and Pilates because the basic principle behind both is similar.

In fact, Pilates is inspired by Yoga and thus emphasizes on breathing, concentration and body alignment and posture.

Thus the question arises that how are these techniques different?

The main difference arises in the involvement of the soul. Yoga, unlike Pilates, involves relaxation of the mind, body, and soul.

Pilates is a bodily exercise which does not have any spiritual benefit.

Again yoga involves holding a posture for some time. Whereas Pilates involves challenging one’s body while performing unstable postures by moving the limbs in certain angles.


It is a moderate form of exercise and should be included in the fitness regime after consultation of a doctor.

Secondly, it is extremely important to know to leave Pilate after sometimes may cause certain side effects and increase the pain.

Pilate is a form of a physical exercise which can only benefit when performed appropriately and correctly.

Hence, it needs to be performed under the supervision of a trained expert.

Though the exercises are widely available through the internet one must know that certain exercises need modifications according to the bodily requirements.

These modifications should never be undertaken by the patient himself.

Arthritis affected person should make sure that he doesn’t strain your joint.


Pilates is an exercising technique.

It became popular in a few years and is one of the most familiar exercise system practiced in the US and UK.

It prevents arthritis risk factors like obesity and injury.

Pilate exercises are intended to improve flexibility, strengthen the muscles, regaining the balance and improve the physical and mental health.

1 thought on “6 Awesome Benefits Of Pilates In Arthritis [UPDATED]”

  1. Very well written article. It is so useful. Joint aches are literally the worse, they make it so hard to even do the basic chores. My mother suffered from joint aches for long and nothing seemed to help her much. Pilates is definitely an answer to so many problems, especially if you find the right studio and instructor.


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