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Pilates & Back Pain

Posted in: Pilates | By: Rodrigo | 2 Comments

Pilates and back pain are commonly heard phrased together. Why Pilates? What do you need to know before you start Pilates for your back pain?

There can be many reasons for back pain. The most common reasons however include tight or inflexible muscles, weak core muscles, poor posture or movement dysfunction of the spine or pelvis. Often these components go hand in hand.

WebMD reports that:

Most low back pain is triggered by some combination of overuse, muscle strain, and injury to the muscles, ligaments, and discs that support the spine. Many experts believe that over time muscle strain can lead to an overall imbalance in the spinal structure. This leads to a constant tension on the muscles, ligaments, bones, and discs, making the back more prone to injury or reinjury.”

The causes of pain in the low back, or lumbosacral region, tend to add on to one another. For example, after straining muscles, you are likely to walk or move in different ways to avoid pain or to use muscles that aren’t sore. That can cause you to strain other muscles that don’t usually move that way.

So why Pilates?

Pilates focuses of balance; lengthening or stretching tight muscles, strengthening weak ones, mobilizing or stabilizing joints that aren’t moving correctly. Strengthening the core muscles that support the back and pelvis is a main focus of Pilates and is key in both recovery and prevention of low back pain.

While Pilates can be a fantastic way to prevent and cure back pain, it may not be enough alone. A visit with a Physical Therapist, Chiropractor or Doctor can be of benefit to look specifically at why you are having this pain as their can be many factors to why the pain started. It’s always a good idea to consult with a health care practitioner prior to starting Pilates for back pain, especially if the pain is severe, there is any numbness or tingling, pain radiating down the legs or loss of strength.

Pilates is rehabilitative in nature and compliments techniques and philosophies found in treatments like Physical Therapy. Pilates can also be a great preventative tool for low back pain. If you are having back pain or are interested in learning more about Pilates, feel free to contact us by phone, email or in person.

2 Replies to "Pilates & Back Pain"

Lori Smith said:

What if your lower back pain is possibly caused by arthritis or degenerative disk? Does moving it around cause more agitation? Just standing or slowly meandering through a store causes much lower back pain.

    misty said:

    That is a good question Lori. Back pain caused by arthritis or degenerative disc disease can still benefit greatly from Pilates. In fact rehabilitating these conditions calls for gentle movement. Having sufficient flexibility of the muscles around the back and endurance of the stabilizing muscles (core muscles) is important. We can not reverse the degeneration of the joints, but we can improve stability and mobility to prevent or minimize further degeneration as well as to improve overall pain and function. Not every Pilates exercise though will be good for these conditions. Working one-on-one for a few sessions would be a good idea before jumping into a class setting. That way you are comfortable with what exercises are appropriate for you and modifications can be given if needed. In a one-on-one you can make sure that you are properly engaging the core muscles. Often when we have had pain and/or dysfunction, the stabilizing (core) muscles around that area become inhibited and the bigger muscles that move you, become over recruited meaning they become very tight and sore (ie. tight back and hip muscles). This imbalance changes the way we move. Some extra guidance in the beginning can help ensure that you are working the right areas from the start. Prolonged standing is often aggravating to these conditions because of poor posture due to decreased endurance and strength of our core muscles and tightness or decreased flexibility in other muscles. The good news is this can be improved! Creating balance in the muscles and joints is key to both recovery and prevention.

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