About the Research Databases

The Wellness Evidence team of doctor consultants selected four of the most respected evidence-based medicine databases that are also particularly useful for wellness-focused research: Natural Standard, The Cochrane Library, PubMed and the TRIP Database.

Please read “Important Things to Know,” including info on each database.

We’ve made researching a particular therapy simple by pre-searching the evidence at each database. (See evidence below.) However, please note that evidence-based medicine relies on a research hierarchy, because not all evidence is created equalLearn more about how the medical experts classify this research.

We’d like to hear from you. If there is a Wellness Evidence discipline you would like to see on these pages, please email us.

Natural Standard

An international research collaboration that systematically reviews (and limits its focus to) scientific evidence on complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). Founded in 2000, Natural Standard assigns a grade to each CAM therapy, reflecting the level of available scientific data for or against the use of each therapy for a specific medical condition.

Natural Standard is subscription-based, and each of the database’s monographs aggregates data from other resources like AMED, CANCERLIT, CINAHL, CISCOM, the Cochrane Library, EMBASE, HerbMed, International Pharmaceutical Abstracts, Medline and NAPRALERT – and 20 additional journals. Data analysis is performed by healthcare professionals conducting clinical work and/or research at academic centers, using standardized instruments pertaining to each monograph section

Background

Pilates is a type of exercise designed to stretch, strengthen and balance the body. It is a full-body system of specific exercises that focus on the core postural muscles (abdomen and back) that help keep the body balanced. Pilates is based on the concepts of awareness, balance, breathing, mental focus, control, flowing movement, and precision. The principle of Pilates is to uniformly develop the body and mind. In particular, Pilates exercises teach awareness of neutral alignment of the spine and strengthening the deep postural muscles that support this alignment, which are important to help alleviate and prevent back pain.

In the early 1900s, Joseph Pilates was an apprentice of yoga, Zen and ancient Greek and Roman physical regimens, and developed the system of exercises typically used in Pilates today. Initially professional dancers, who appreciated improved strength, balance and flexibility, primarily used the Pilates exercise program.

Later, resistance springs were incorporated into rehabilitation programs for hospitalized patients. The springs were later transformed into unique Pilates equipment.

In the 1980s Pilates was rediscovered, and it is now a popular form of exercise. Pilates is often practiced in group mat classes (without equipment), or private or semi-private sessions with or without specially designed equipment.

Technique

Mat exercises primarily focus on strengthening the muscles of the trunk and hip and increasing the flexibility of both the spine and hips. While the scope of the mat program is limited compared to the exercises that use the equipment, there are many mat exercises that illustrate the Pilates principles. Individual lessons often use the unique Pilates equipment, which aids in creating resistance.

Reformer: The principal piece of equipment is called the reformer and consists of a sliding platform anchored at one end of its frame with springs. Pulling on ropes or pushing off from a stationary bar moves the platform. Exercises with this machine require the individual to maintain balance on a moving surface.

Cadillac: The cadillac consists of a padded platform with a cage-like frame above it. From this frame various bars or straps are attached by springs.

Wunda chair: The wunda chair consists of a small bench-like platform with a bar attached with springs. Exercises are done by pushing on the bar while either sitting or standing on the bench or standing or lying on the floor.

Theory/Evidence

Research shows that if practiced consistently, Pilates increases strength, length and flexibility of muscles, particularly of the abdomen and back muscles. Preliminary research suggests that Pilates may help treat obesity, reduce low back pain, and help with spine alignment.

Experts claim that it will take six to eight weeks to see changes in physical appearance.

Safety

For those interested in Pilates, especially those who do not regularly exercise, it is recommended to begin workouts slowly and build up activity gradually.

Use cautiously with heart disease, high blood pressure, asthma, dizziness or balance problems, bone or joint problems, diabetes or any new undiagnosed medical condition.

Author Information

This information has been edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com).

Bibliography

Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. Selected references are listed below.

  1. AARP. www.aarp.org
  2. Pilates Method Alliance. www.pilatesmethodalliance.org

Cochrane

British epidemiologist Archie Cochrane is regarded as the originator of the Evidence-Based Medicine concept (in the 1950s). And the Cochrane Library is a collection of very high-quality medical databases, which have, at their core, the Cochrane Reviews, systematic reviews and meta-analyses which summarize and interpret the results of well-conducted, randomized controlled trials… the ‘gold standard’ in Evidence-Based Medicine.

The Cochrane Library is a subscription-based database but offers free access to abstracts.

PubMED

A service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine, PubMed was released in 1996 as a free digital archive of references and abstracts on life sciences and biomedical topics. PubMed comprises 20-million-plus citations for biomedical literature from MEDLINE, life science journals and online books from around the world. Some 11.5 million articles are listed with their abstract and 3.1 million articles are available in full-text for free.

TRIP

The TRIP Database, launched in 1997, is a search engine designed to allow clinicians to quickly find answers to their medical questions using the best available evidence. Trip’s founders realized medical professionals were being forced to perform time-consuming searches at multiple websites to get at the most relevant information. So, they designed TRIP as a meta-search engine, allowing users to both simultaneously search thousands of databases, medical publications and resources, as well as easily filter the results: limiting searches to the most stringent, highest-quality medical evidence or expanding them to include results like patient information, news articles, etc.