According to the ACA, back pain can lead to reduced productivity, missed work days  and disabilities. It’s easy to put the ailment at the back of your mind, assured that it’s something that only old people experience back pain. The problem is that the reassuring thought isn’t based on fact. Quite the opposite, in fact. According to the ACA, around 80% of America’s population will experience back pain at some point in their lives and it’ll affect them at any age.  

So, it’s important to work out how to avoid experiencing severe back pain. Believe it or not, pilates can help to reduced or relieve back pain entirely. Read on to find out more!

How does Pilates help?

Pilates is an exercise that can help to prevent and treat back pain by

  • helping to strengthen your abdominal muscles.
  • increasing your postural awareness.
  • releasing the tension in your muscles.

Things to consider

  • Remember to breathe! It’ll activate your core muscles.
  • Engage your abs, it’ll help you to support the muscles in your back.
  • Make sure that your shoulders are pointing down, away from both of your ears.
  • Make sure that your hips are aligned with your shoulder, unless the exercise states otherwise.
  • Don’t push it, you shouldn’t be in pain while attempting these exercises.

Note: Start with a few basic pilates exercises, if your back is fragile. You don’t want to exacerbate your condition. And before doing any exercises, always consult with your doctor first!

Best Pilates Exercises for Back Pain

1. Pelvic Tilt or Imprinting

This helps to strengthen the muscles that support your spine.

  • Start by lying on your back; your muscles relaxed, your knees bent, your feet pressed against the floor.
  • Breathe out and lift your pelvic muscles up off the floor, engaging them in the process.
  • Pull your navel toward your spine, so that your lower back is pressed against the floor.
  • Breathe in, relax and return to your original position.
  • Repeat this 3-5 times.

2. Chest Lift

This exercise will strengthen your core muscles and abs.

Source: Body Refinery- Chest Lift

  • Start by lying on your back; your back muscles should be relaxed, your pelvic and core muscles should be engaged.
  • Make sure that your hands are underneath you head, your knees need to be bent and your feet should be pressed against the floor.
  • Now, breathe out and lift your upper body up while making sure that your stomach is flat and your pelvis is still.
  • Breathe in and lay back down.
  • Repeat this 3-5 times.

3. Supine Spinal Twist

This exercise will help to strengthen your oblique muscles.

Source: Ergonomic Trends- Yoga Poses for Back Pain

  • Lay down with your back pressed against the mat.
  • Your knees should be bent, your feet pressed against the floor and both arms stretched out next to you.
  • Squeeze your knees together.
  • Now, slowly push your knees to the right while keeping your shoulders pressed against the floor.
  • Hold the stretch for 10 seconds.
  • Breathe out and push your navel towards your spine.
  • Push your knees back into the centre.
  • Now, repeat the movements but move your knees to the left.
  • Keep going, alternating from the right to the left.
  • Repeat this 3-5 times, on each side.

4. Kneeling Arm and Leg Reach

This exercise will help to strengthen the muscles around your torso.

  • Start by ‘kneeling’ on the mat. Your hands should be aligned with your shoulders, your knees should be aligned with your hips and your spine should be neutral.
  • Don’t move your torso as you reach an arm out in front of you and move the opposite leg out behind you. Your fingertips and toes should touch the mat.
  • Now, lift the extended arm and leg up off the mat. Make sure that your navel is pulled inward as you do so.
  • Hold the position for 5 seconds.
  • Now bring your hand and leg back down, moving them into their original position.
  • Now, repeat the movements with your alternate arm and leg.
  • Keep going until you’ve gone through the movements 3-5 times.

5. Swan Prep

Swan prep helps to strengthen the muscles that help us to stand upright.

  • Lie face down on your mat.
  • Make sure that your arms are next to your body as you bend both elbows and move your hands under your shoulders.
  • Move your shoulder away from your ears.
  • Press your legs together. If this is difficult, you can move them so that they are shoulder width apart.
  • Now, engage your abs and lift your navel up off the mat. Your abdominal muscles should remain in this position throughout the rest of the exercise.
  • Now, breathe in and lengthen your spine and press both your forearms and hands against the mat.  This will help to support the arc that your upper body has formed.
  • Move your tailbone towards the mat and  make sure that your neck is elongated.
  • Breathe out and move out of the arc. You will need to keep your abdominal muscles lifted as your torso moves back towards the mat.
  • Repeat this 3-5 times.

These are just a few of the exercises that you can do to strengthen the muscles in your back and avoid back pain! Give them a try.

Cite this article as:
Editorial Staff, "Best Pilates Exercises for Back Pain," in Medicalopedia, February 6, 2019, [Permalink: https://www.medicalopedia.org/7246/best-pilates-exercises-for-back-pain/].