A Pilates exercise program with pelvic floor muscle contraction: Is it effective for pregnant women? A randomized controlled trial

Neurourol Urodyn. 2018 Jan;37(1):379-384. doi: 10.1002/nau.23308. Epub 2017 May 23.


Aims: The aim of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of a Pilates exercise program with pelvic floor muscle (PFM) contraction compared to a conventional intervention in pregnant women.

Methods: Fifty primiparous women, without gestational alterations, were randomized to the Pilates group (n = 25) and control group (n = 25). Interventions for both groups consisted of twice-weekly sessions of 1 h each during the period between the 14-16th and 32-34th gestational weeks. The Pilates group performed a Pilates exercises program with the addition of voluntary PFM contraction. Mat-based Pilates exercises were performed involving movement of the upper limbs, lower limbs and trunk in all sessions. The Control group walked for 10 min and performed strengthening exercises of the lower limbs, upper limbs, and trunk with resistance from an elastic band and body weight. Each woman was evaluated by an unblinded physiotherapist before and after intervention for primary (PFM strength using a manometer) and secondary (PFM strength using Oxford Scale, endurance and repeatability) outcomes. Covariance analysis (ANCOVA) was used to compare the groups using the baseline values as a covariate.

Results: Thirty-six women were included in the analysis. There were no differences between the groups for manometry. An increase in the PFM strength, endurance, and repeatability was only observed in the Pilates group. In addition, the Pilates group showed greater adherence to the intervention.

Conclusion: Pilates exercise program with PFM contraction is not able to change the PFM strength assessed by manometer in pregnant women, but it improved adherence to the intervention.

Keywords: Pilates exercise; pelvic floor muscle; physiotherapy; pregnancy.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Exercise Movement Techniques*
  • Exercise Therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Muscle Contraction / physiology*
  • Muscle Strength / physiology*
  • Pelvic Floor / physiology*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnant Women
  • Treatment Outcome