Mat or Machine--Which is More Effective for Chronic Back Pain?

Mat or Machine--Which is More Effective for Chronic Back Pain?

So you’ve done your research, and you’ve decided to invest in your lumbar health by giving Pilates a try. However, you’re having a hard time deciding if you should go for the mat class, or try your hand at the equipment you see in the studio. Read on to see what the experts say.


According to the study, “Effectiveness of Mat Pilates or Equipment-Based Pilates Exercises in Patients with Chronic Nonspecific Low Back Pain: A Randomized Controlled Trial,” to find relief for your lower back pain, equipment-based Pilates is the better option. Experts in the physical therapy field conducted a study at a private studio in Brazil and came to this conclusion. The study included 86 patients randomly placed into two groups—half in the mat Pilates group, and the other half in the equipment Pilates group. Participants were observed in 12 sessions over 6 weeks, and after a six month follow-up, the experts found that equipment-based Pilates was a better option than mat Pilates in the effort to alleviate chronic lower back pain.


Participants with disabilities and kinesiophobia, the fear of movement based on the belief that it will cause more pain or injury, saw significant improvements when they practiced equipment-based Pilates. It’s possible that equipment-based practices saw better outcomes become of the stabilization machines provide for people with disabilities, along with the perceived protection machines offer for those who are afraid of getting hurt again. Either way, the jury is in: taking a few spins on the Reformer and other Pilates apparatus is a good way to alleviate your lower back pain.

The results of the study suggest that under the care of a Certified Pilates Instructor, you could be well on your way to the quality of life you enjoyed before your back pain took over. Below are the benefits of seeking the expertise of a quality professional:

1.     She will design a tailor-made workout, specific to your needs. When you put your wellness in the hands of a quality pro, she’ll dig into her toolbox to create a regimen with your name all over it. You won’t have to worry about your next move, because your instructor will have already done the work to ensure each movement will help improve your strength without aggravating your injury.

2.     She will make sure you do each movement right, every time. Certified professionals are not careless with your sessions; they are there to see to it that you get the most out of the time you put in, and they do that by watching your form like a hawk. When you work with a good instructor, you won’t be able to get away with less than your full effort, and they’ll make you realize that you don’t want to, either.

3.     She will track your progress. At times, we feel like we’re working hard and not getting any results, or we’re not aware of the myriad of ways we can assess our progress. Professional instructors know what to look for when it’s time to measure gains, and often, they can spot forward movement in places you never even thought to look.

If you’re ready to strut through 2018 with less back pain, stop by ECP and set up an initial assessment with a certified instructor, today. There’s no reason to wait.

Jessica Notman