Does Pilates Training Benefit Dancers?

An Appraisal of Pilates Research Literature

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Abstract:

Pilates has been used extensively by dancers since Joseph H. Pilates first developed his method of training over 60 years ago. With the extent to which Pilates has been incorporated into dancers' training and conditioning, the question arises as to the scientific basis for this practice. Our two-fold purpose was to critically appraise published research on Pilates training in dancers and propose future research strategies for this method in dancers. An extensive literature search was conducted, using Pilates as the search word. A total of 277 articles were found. Thirty-nine articles and abstracts were published in refereed, professional journals, of which there were 10 clinical trials. Of these clinical trials, only 5 were published with dancers and gymnasts as the population of interest. The strengths of these 5 clinical trials were: 1. the use of Pilates by experienced instructors; 2. well-written hypotheses; and 3. documented need for research in this area. The weaknesses were: 1. lack of true experimental designs; 2. lack of statistical power; and 3. small sample sizes. There is weak support for the effectiveness of Pilates in improving strength and alignment in dancers, primarily due to a lack of sound research methodology surrounding each study. Utilizing control groups, randomizing subjects, calculating statistical power, and using valid and reliable methods to measure outcomes can enhance the scientific basis for Pilates in the dance profession.

Document Type: Review Article

Affiliations: 1: Associate Professor, University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing, 415 Victoria Building, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15261 2: Assistant Professor in the Department of Health and Physical Activity in the University of Pittsburgh School of Education, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication date: June 1, 2006

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