Pilates program design and health benefits for pregnant women: a practitioners' survey Academic Article uri icon


  • BACKGROUND:Little is known about recommendations for safe and appropriate instruction of Pilates exercises to women during pregnancy. The aim of this study was to examine Pilates practitioners' perspectives regarding Pilates program design for pregnant women. We also sought to elucidate their views on the potential benefits, restrictions and contraindications on Pilates in pregnancy. METHODS:A cross-sectional survey was performed. Pilates practitioners were invited to participate via email. Participants were surveyed about their experience and views on: screening processes in alignment with The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) (2002) guidelines; (ii) optimal exercise program features and (iii) physical and mental health benefits of Pilates for pregnant women. RESULTS:The survey was completed by 192 Pilates practitioners from a range of settings. Practitioners reported conducting formal screening (84%) for safety in pregnant women prior to commencing Pilates classes. Most did not routinely seek medical approval from the woman's general practitioner. Divergent views emerged regarding the safety and benefits of Pilates exercises in the supine position. Mixed opinions were also generated regarding the effects of spinal flexion exercises, single-leg stance exercises and breathing manoeuvres. There was little agreement on the optimal frequency or dosage of exercises. Views regarding absolute contraindications to exercise differed from The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) (2002) guidelines which cautioned about the dangers of persistent bleeding, premature labour, pre-eclampsia, placental praevia and incompetent cervix. The most frequent reported physical and psychological benefit of Pilates was improving pelvic floor strength (12%) and improved social wellbeing (23%). CONCLUSIONS:The study highlighted wide variations in practice for Pilates exercises with pregnant woman as well as low adherence to clinical practice guidelines. Further evidence is required to advise on appropriate screening and individualized Pilates programming, particularly for women with medical conditions during pregnancy.

publication date

  • 2018