Pilates and the Physicalmind Method

Pilates is a type of bodywork that aims to increase strength and flexibility. The Physicalmind method is a variant of Pilates. Joseph H. Pilates, a German boxer, dancer, and inventor, developed the Pilates method during World War I as a way to help wounded soldiers recover from their injuries. The popularity of Pilates in the United States has increased dramatically within the past decade.

Treatment Approach

While practicing Pilates, people concentrate on their body movements. There can be over 500 specific movements. During each movement, attention is given to which muscles are used and exactly how they are controlled. Pilates also emphasizes breathing. The Physicalmind method places more focus on the position of the body and was originally developed because of a lawsuit over the Pilates name. Both techniques use some specialized exercise equipment. The Pilates method and the Physical mind method are claimed to increase flexibility and strength without increasing muscle size.

Evaluation in MS and Other Conditions

Limited research has been done evaluating the Pilates and Physicalmind methods. People with MS reportedly have used both methods, but no research has been done specifically looking at this disease. Some general research has been conducted in healthy individuals, however. One such study involved six gymnasts at the University of Illinois. After practicing the Pilates method for one month combined with leap and pool training, the gymnasts had higher jumps, increased strength, and decreased reaction times. Another small-scale study reported the Pilates method increased flexibility. More research needs to be done on the Pilates and Physicalmind methods in order to determine their effectiveness.

Adverse Effects

Pilates method and the Physicalmind method are generally well tolerated.


Both the Pilates method and the Physicalmind method are low-risk forms of bodywork. They are both of moderate cost. There have been few published studies evaluating their effectiveness, but both therapies do claim to improve flexibility and strength.

References and Additional Reading


Bowling AC. Complementary and Alternative Medicine and Multiple Sclerosis. New York: Demos Medical Publishing, 2007, pp. 188-189.

Spencer JW, Jacobs JJ. Complementary and Alternative Medicine: An Evidence-Based Approach. St. Louis: Mosby, 2003, pp. 196, 580.

Journal Articles

Anonymous. Conditioning by Pilates. Harvard Women’s Health Watch 1999;6:7. Hutchinson MR, Tremain L, Christiansen J, et al. Improving leaping ability in elite rhythmic gymnasts. Med Sci Sports Ex 1998;30:1543–1547.

Segal NA, Hein J, Basford JR. The effects of Pilates training on flexibility and body composition: an observational study. Arch Phys Med Rehab 2004;85:1977–1981.

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