Muscle Activation During Pilates Exercises in Participants With Chronic Nonspecific Low Back Pain: A Cross-Sectional Case-Control Study

Published:September 29, 2016DOI:



      To determine the amplitude of the electromyographic activity of trunk muscles during Pilates exercises in women with and without chronic low back pain (LBP).


      Case-control study.


      University physical therapy clinic.


      Women (N=60) divided into an LBP group and a control group.


      Not applicable.

      Main Outcome Measures

      Amplitude of the electromyographic activity (root mean square values) of the gluteus maximus and external oblique muscles collected during 3 Pilates exercises: Shoulder Bridge performed on the mat, and Hip Roll and Breathing performed in equipment. Pain intensity was assessed in the LBP group.


      The amplitude of the electromyographic activity was similar between groups (P≥.05). For both groups, the amplitude of the gluteus maximus was higher in the Shoulder Bridge exercise compared with the Hip Roll with 2 springs (control group: mean difference [MD]=.18; 95% confidence interval [CI], .05–.41; LBP group: MD=.29; 95% CI, .16–.31) and the Breathing exercise (control group: MD=−.40; 95% CI, −.55 to −.26; LBP group: MD=−.36; 95% CI, −.52 to −.20). The amplitude of the external oblique muscle was higher in the Shoulder Bridge compared with the Hip Roll with 2 springs (control group: MD=.13; 95% CI, .05–.21; LBP group: MD=.18; 95% CI, .03–.33). Pain intensity increased after exercises, but this increase was lower for the mat exercises.


      Similar muscle activation between groups was found. The findings suggest that mat exercises caused less pain and a greater difference in the amplitude of muscle activation compared with the equipment-based exercises.


      List of abbreviations:

      LBP (low back pain)
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