Benefits of Pilates for Fibromyalgia

People with fibromyalgia benefit greatly from Pilates training. Discover the benefits of this practice and some recommendations.
Benefits of Pilates for Fibromyalgia
Leidy Mora Molina

Reviewed and approved by the nurse Leidy Mora Molina.

Written by Edith Sánchez

Last update: 01 June, 2023

Pilates is an activity that brings benefits to fibromyalgia patients. In particular, its practice strengthens muscles and increases flexibility, which complements physical therapy and rehabilitation treatments. Find out all the benefits of Pilates for fibromyalgia patients here.

Fibromyalgia is a chronic disease that is accompanied by physical limitations, pain and other symptoms. As a result, many people avoid physical activity. However, this form of exercise turns out to be a good option. Let’s see its benefits.

Fibromyalgia and physical exercise

Fibromyalgia is a complex disease, whose characteristic symptom is pain. This is usually accompanied by sleep disturbances and general fatigue, which doesn’t correspond to efforts made throughout the day. As a result, this disease often leads to a sedentary lifestyle.

The consequence of this is that patients reduce their respiratory capacity to below-average levels. They also tend to have more problems with mood swings. Therefore, inactivity isn’t at all advisable in these cases.

It isn’t at all easy to encourage a person who is very fatigued and in pain to exercise. However, physical activity is a factor that has a very positive impact on their condition. Pilates training is a very suitable option in these cases.

Pilates and fibromyalgia.
Fibromyalgia can limit physical capacity. However, exercise can help to improve symptoms.

In general, it’s recommended that a person with fibromyalgia should perform physical exercise on a regular basis. However, there are some that tend to bring more benefits, for various reasons. The most recommended are the following:

  • Pilates training. It should be performed three times a week. It reduces pain and improves functionality.
  • Nordic walking. It consists of walking outdoors with the help of sticks similar to those used in skiing. It increases functional capacity.
  • Walking. A study conducted in 2017 determined that walking improves the condition of people with fibromyalgia.
  • Swimming. This is considered as effective as walking.
  • Exercise biking. Improves the inflammatory response of fibromyalgia patients.
  • Yoga and tai chi. Reduces physical and psychological symptoms of the disease.
  • Biodanza. Helps reduce pain.

Benefits of Pilates for fibromyalgia

Pilates training tops the list of recommended exercises for people with fibromyalgia, along with yoga and tai chi. Available data indicate that it generates significant benefits, which are increased when combined with some aerobic exercise.

Experts indicate that Pilates training improves circulation throughout the body. In addition, it reduces pain caused by poor body posture and, in turn, can reduce the pain caused by this disease.

This type of exercise strengthens muscles, which helps to prevent back pain and reduces the risk of fractures. Likewise, its regular practice has a positive impact on the body’s ability to absorb nutrients such as calcium.

In general, this kind of training improves the condition of those suffering from fibromyalgia.

Some interesting facts

Pilates training is a very popular type of exercise, as it is very easy to incorporate it into any physical activity routine. This modality helps to know one’s own body better and, consequently, to have more control over it, thus promoting well-being.

Research carried out in Brazil, in 2016, evidenced the benefits of Pilates in patients with fibromyalgia. It helped them to sleep better, reduced pain, and improved their functional capacity.

It’s important to design a personalized routine, which is both enjoyable and pleasant for the patient. Excessive training, either in time or intensity, can cause an exacerbation of symptoms. Therefore, it’s best to discuss this with the physician for guidance.

Generally speaking, it’s best to design a routine according to individual characteristics. It can be adjusted over time, according to the person’s needs. If at any given moment it causes discomfort or resistance, the right thing to do is to do lighter exercises, but not to abandon it.

Pilates for elderly people.
Pilates training is ideal for improving the quality of life of patients with fibromyalgia.

Final recommendations

Although Pilates training – and exercise in general – is highly recommended for people with fibromyalgia, there are also conditions that require special caution. In particular, if a person also suffers from osteoarthritis, it’s advisable to seek medical guidance for this practice.

The same applies to those who have diseases such as trochanteric bursitis, muscle contractures, or knee injuries. In all these cases it’s possible to perform this type of exercise, but it should be done with greater caution. The doctor will provide the necessary instructions.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Peñacoba, C., Pastor, M. Á., López-Roig, S., Velasco, L., & Lledo, A. (2017). Walking beliefs in women with fibromyalgia: clinical profile and impact on walking behavior. Clinical nursing research, 26(5), 632-650.
  • Altan L, Korkmaz N, Bingol U, Gunay B. Effect of pilates training on people with fibromyalgia syndrome: a pilot study. Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2009 Dec;90(12):1983-8. doi: 10.1016/j.apmr.2009.06.021. PMID: 19969158.
  • Çağlayan BÇ, Keskin A, Gür Kabul E, Başakcı Çalık B, Baş Aslan U, Karasu U. Effects of clinical Pilates exercises in individuals with fibromyalgia: A randomized controlled trial. Eur J Rheumatol. 2021 Jul;8(3):150-155. doi: 10.5152/eurjrheum.2020.20037. PMID: 33372888.
  • Dias de Aguiar, S., Paixão Carvalho, J., Andrade Teles, D., & Pôrto, E. F. (2016). Benefício do Método Pilates em mulheres com fibromialgia. ConScientiae Saude, 15(3).
  • Casals, C., Sánchez, M. V., & Sánchez, J. C. (2011). Prescripción de actividad física en pacientes con fibromialgia. SEMERGEN-Medicina de Familia, 37(7), 360-366.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.