Pilates and Low Back Pain
Lower back pain doesn’t exist in isolation: while its source will be unique to the individual, it is often the product of multiple factors, including but not limited to:
• postural alignment and (asymmetric) associated recruitment patterns
• abdominal strength
• muscle mobility and flexibility
It can also be the result of:
• sprains and strains
• disc pathologies
• spinal pathologies (like Scoliosis)
• traumatic injury
• mental health
• occupational risk factors
Clearly “lower back pain” is a complex condition, so it requires an integrated, responsive treatment strategy to achieve meaningful and lasting health outcomes for clients.
Pilates is an intelligent exercise system and one that works effectively in conjunction with Allied Health modalities to treat lower back pain of the subacute and chronic varieties.
Why does Pilates work so well?
The beauty of this method, especially in the studio setting, is its versatility.
The Pilates repertoire allows for targeted work, engaging deep and superficial muscles across all planes: flexion, extension, lateral flexion and rotation. Moving efficiently in all planes makes for smart, whole-body conditioning.
Pilates is not a “band-aid” solution to lower back pain. Moving efficiently at optimal alignment with stability and mobilisation allows us to effectively re-train the body to move freely and functionally, without pain or discomfort. (And improved, functional movement is a gift that you can take with you into life!)
How can Pilates help, exactly?
Pilates can help to alleviate and prevent lower back pain by:
Improving awareness of movement patterns and building new ones!
Technically known as “proprioception”, Pilates teaches physical awareness of movement that helps when we’re learning how to prioritise optimal dynamic alignment (better posture). Better alignment and more efficient movement equal reduced tension and pain!
Improve strength: where it matters most!
Pilates strengthening for lower back conditions is, in a nutshell, about creating stability through the centre of the body: supporting the spine from the inside-out!
The typical, “perfect storm” of lower back pain looks a lot like weak deep abdominals plus weak PSOAS plus sub-optimal pelvic floor functionality. The severity and combination of factors at play is, of course, unique to the individual.
Pilates can help by improving strength in the muscles that support the spine so we can find your optimal alignment and train new recruitment patterns (movement habits) to reduce pain today and manage it into the future.
Balanced work: stretch and strengthen
The aim is to build strength but also achieve suppleness in the muscles to support the hip and shoulder joints, so we can train new, effective movement habits that you can take with you into life (aka functional movement). Pilates workouts are inherently balanced due to the marriage of strength and stretch considerations: that’s why you feel so good after!
What can you expect?
There’s no magic pill for back pain; it can take some time to realise the full benefits of a Pilates Studio program. Re-setting your body with new, healthy habits takes time and commitment. A skilled Pilates Practitioner can work with your healthcare provider to develop a strategy that will achieve the best outcomes for your body, and help to manage and prevent lower back pain, for life!
There’s no substitute for healthy movement
Owner Megan Joy Pilates