The integration of structure and balanced function
: How does Pilates return the human body wholeness?

  • Anne Catherine Evans

    Student thesis: Masters by Research - CDU


    This research is a comparative assessment study of the effects of a ten-week intervention of a Pilates therapeutic model (PTM) on twenty-eight subjects, attending two sessions per week at a professional Pilates studio in Sydney, Australia. It explores the relationship between body systems in the process of returning to health; the further development and on-going maintenance of a balanced organism through the investigation of historically specific indications of Pilates philosophy, evolved Pilates repertoire, understanding, and standards of current practice.

    The presentation of expanded principles, complimentary approaches and new and improved methodologies, provides the modus operandi for this holistic study; the PTM resolving activity limitations and pain associated with movement control issues, restrictions and pathologies in five specific areas that commonly present to the Pilates studio: 1) Knee; 2) Hip; 3) Low back; 4) Kyphosis/Scoliosis; 5) Neck/Shoulder.

    Data were gathered using a diverse portfolio of qualitative and quantitative methods and analyzed through a semi-triangulated approach. Through client observations and interactions, reliable source technology and client feedback, each category/condition provided a different perspective on the common theme of dysfunction. Combined sources of information identified common themes of within-case and cross-case analysis.

    Outcome measures indicate that a return to health is co-dependent on an integrated functioning of all body systems.

    Improvement in pelvic range of motion (ROM) was observed to correlate with changes in other physical factors, including the redistribution of force to the spine, congruency of joint capsules and release of fascial alterations; resolving pain, restrictions and presenting pathologies.

    The holistic nature of this study highlighted the essential relationship between structure and function; how biopsychosocial factors reproduce symptoms and impairments. When underlying issues, for example, thought patterns, emotions, feelings, memory of trauma, habits, hereditary, inner and outer stressors, posture, and subsequent fascial alterations are addressed, change in structure and function is also observed and experienced.

    Through an integrative approach to improved functioning of all body systems, a systematic prophylaxis in structure is achieved. A paradigm shift in understanding is expressed, with new terminology informing and guiding the practitioner to a renewal of practice in Pilates for rehabilitation.

    This thesis also expands upon a number of contentions in the current Pilates Method, for example, abdominal narrowing versus abdominal bracing and stability versus mobility. The modern definition of the core/centre is also reviewed, detailing important considerations for balanced function, teaching and learning.

    Through the osmosis of past experience and present insight into the multifunctional role of the connective tissue/fascial system, this research seeks to clarify, qualify and challenge current understanding, shedding new light through new approaches; providing evidence for professional ‘best practice’, ongoing discussion, and recommendations for further research.
    Date of AwardNov 2017
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorIan Heazlewood (Supervisor)

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