Effect of the ‘Pilates stance’ and Pilates-based matwork training on measurements of height, waist circumference, and interscapular distance

Mairi Dent, Lesley McPherson, Moira S. Lewitt*

*Corresponding author for this work

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Standardised guidelines for stance are used to improve interobserver reliability in anthropometric measurements in clinical practice. A key feature of the stance in Pilates is the ‘drawing in and up’ of the abdomen. The aim of this study was to study the impact of the Pilates stance on height, waist circumference and interscapular distance, compared to that recommended in clinical practice.

48 healthy females (median age 60 years) were assessed before and after 10-week Pilates-based matwork training. One Pilates expert and one novice took independent measurements of weight, height, waist circumference and interscapular distance (ISD).

Pilates stance, compared to Normal, increased height by up to 2.7 cm and decreased waist up to 5.2 cm (each P < 0.001, repeated measures ANOVA). ISD decreased up to 14 mm (P < 0.001) and this decrease was greater after training (P < 0.001). After controlling for age and length of time learning Pilates, greater baseline ISD predicted a greater change in ISD after the intervention. Effect of Pilates stance was greater when the expert took the measurements (each P ≤ 0.001).

Activation of trunk muscles in the Pilates stance increases height and decreases waist circumference, compared to the stance recommended in UK healthcare settings. A decrease in ISD was observed, which was greater after a Pilates-based matwork programme. There are significant inter-observer differences, therefore current clinical guidelines for stance are recommended for repeated anthropometry. The value of the Pilates stance in improving posture and the role of ISD as a marker, should be further studied in various contexts, including clinical settings.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)550-557
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies
Early online date22 Mar 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 22 Mar 2024


  • pilates-based matwork
  • anthropometry
  • posture
  • core muscles
  • muscle activation


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