Pilates for Back Pain

“My back used to hurt all the time and now I don’t feel it anymore” and “I stopped going to my chiropractor, because I don’t have back pain anymore” are the phrases we hear a lot from people who do Reformer Pilates programs at InterFit Studio.

What Makes Pilates so Effective for Back Pain Relief?

Issues like lack of core support, pelvic instability, muscular imbalances, poor posture, and lack of body awareness all effect back health.

In InterFit Studio, we pay a lot of attention to how our body parts are lined up in relation to each other, which is our alignment. When alignment is off, uneven stresses on the skeleton, especially the spine, are the result. Pilates exercises , done with attention to alignment, create uniform muscle use and development, allowing movement to flow through the body in a natural way. For example, one of the most common postural imbalances that people have is the tendency to either tuck or tilt the pelvis. Both positions create weaknesses on one side of the body and overly tight areas on the other. They deny the spine the support of its natural curves and create a domino effect of aches and pains all the way up the spine and into the neck. Doing Pilates increases the awareness of the proper placement of the spine and pelvis, and creates the inner strength to support the natural curves of the spine. This is called having a neutral spine and it has been the key to better backs for many people.

The Pilates program address the underlying structural imbalances in the body that lead to back pain.

Video: Larina and Lana are introducing programs: Pilates for Back Pain.

Pilates Develop Core Strength

Good posture that goes beyond the “look” of being aligned requires core strength. Having core strength means that all of the muscles of the trunk of your body are strong, flexible, and working together to support and stabilize the spine. Core strength is deeper than the big surface muscles that we are used to thinking of as those of the trunk of the body, like the rectus abdominis, the infamous 6-pack abs muscle or the beautiful big muscles of the back, like the lattisimus dorsi, popularly called “the lats.” The core muscles include the muscles that are below the surface musculature. So while many forms of exercise focus on strengthening the big surface muscles, Pilates train the body so that all of the core muscles work together to support and stabilize the back. And it is essential for back health. Some of these less obvious but very important core muscles are the muscles of the pelvic floor; the psoas, which play a huge role in keeping us upright and in hip bending; the transversospinalis, which are small muscles that weave along the spine; and the transverse and oblique abdominal muscles. The diaphragm, our prime breathing muscle, is right in the middle of the core. All of these muscles play crucial roles in the support and stability of the spine.

Pilates Promote Flexibility And Range Of Motion Of The Spine

A healthy spine can curve forward and backward, twist, and move side to side, and do so in a way that reveals all the subtle articulations that our many vertebrae allow us to have. As core strength develops, the back muscles learn to work in harmony with the abdominal muscles, forming protective support for the spine that increase the potential range of motion of the spine. Pilates exercises are easy to modify so that we can develop spinal flexibility at our own pace.

…the only real guide to your true age lies not in years or how you THINK you feel but as you ACTUALLY are as infallibly indicated by the natural and normal flexibility enjoyed by your spine…

Joseph Pilates

Pilates Increase Body Awareness

Whether the cause of pain is from an injury or as is often the case, a culmination of the effects of poor posture and inefficient movement habits, back pain is a messenger letting us know that we have to pay more attention to how we live in our bodies. Pilates methods are full attention exercises. You can’t do Pilates without becoming extremely aware of your alignment and the energy you bring to movement. This kind of awareness practice is extremely powerful for people with back pain because we not only improve physical functioning, but as awareness increases, we move beyond the physical and mental holding patterns that back pain can create. Then, there is more room in one’s whole being for positive change.