If you are one of the many people who are suffering from back pain caused by weak muscles and a lot of sitting, you have probably wondered if there is a way to deal with it and is Pilates good for your back pain?
Pilates is great for back pain relief because it strengthens your pelvic and abdominal muscles which are important for supporting your lower back. It can also help you with upper back pain, if done right. These low impact exercises will not worsen your symptoms like some other exercises might.
To know more about how Pilates affects your back and which are the best exercises, read the following chapters:
Why Is Pilates Good for Your Back Problems?
Unfortunately, many people suffer from lower back pain.
If there is no medical reason, and you are otherwise healthy, the reason lies beneath the fact that your pelvic and abdominal muscles are weak and not able to support you in the right way.
Deep abdominal muscles are hard to activate during everyday activities and to strengthen them you will have to do exercises which target those muscles.
Additionally, Pilates is a form of low-impact exercise.
It means that there is no stress applied to your joints and spine.
For those suffering from back pain, this is very important and before you strengthen your muscles you should always do these light exercises first.
If you have problems with upper back pain, Pilates can also help you resolve this problem, but you shouldn’t expect results to happen overnight.
It takes time to undo years of neglect, and even if it seems useless in the beginning, stay persistent and keep practicing. First results usually appear after a couple of months.
When talking about back and posture, many people are unaware of the fact that gluteal muscles play a very important role in back support and posture.
Strengthening those muscles is a part of the process too.
Can Pilates Worsen Your Back Pain?
If done right, under supervision, or very carefully at home, Pilates will not worsen it.
However, there are some instances where Pilates can actually make it worse.
First of all, is Pilates good for back pain depends on the cause of the pain.
Visit your doctor and get a professional advice before you start practicing. Working out with an underlying condition such as unknown injury can make it worse.
Another way in which Pilates can worsen your symptoms is doing exercises which are not suitable for you.
That is why you can find all kinds of practice programs.
Pilates is such a versatile and good activity that it can be “tailored” to meet your personal needs. Some people are less flexible than others, or have especially weak group of muscles.
Forcing yourself to do something you are not ready for or doing it wrong can cause your back pain to increase, or even cause an injury.
Make sure you do everything in a slow and controlled manner, and stop if you feel any discomfort.
For those who have absolutely no experience with any kind of exercise, it would be wise to hire a Pilates instructor.
What are The Best Pilates Exercises for Back Pain?
There are a lot of exercises suitable for all fitness levels, but here I will mention just a few beginner ones, that can be done by anyone, including those with no previous experience.
Some of these are therapeutic Pilates exercises for lower back pain relief.
This is a starting point to activate your deep pelvic muscles.
Lay on your back, bend your knees and place your feet on the floor. Relax and breathe normally.
On an inhale, tilt your pelvis upwards in a way that your lower back gets flushed with the floor. On an exhale, lower it down. Do it very slowly.
Chest lift is one of those exercises we all know.
To do it properly, lay on your back, bend your knees and keep your feet on the ground. Put your hands behind your head and engage your abdominal muscles. When you exhale, lift your chest from the floor.
Pelvis should stay in the same position, and you should not pull your head up with your hands.
As you lift, try to control your stomach and keep it “low”.
Do it in a way that you are moving your belly towards your spine, not lifting and “blowing” up. On an inhale, lower down.
Kneeling arm and leg reach
Assuming that you were able to do first two exercises, you can make progress to this one.
It will activate all of your core and torso muscles, and in a way it can be observed as a whole body exercise.
Kneel on all fours. Keep your spine in a neutral position. Your pelvis shouldn’t be tilted down or up in a way that you arch your lower back.
Your wrists have to be underneath your shoulders, and knees underneath your hips.
If you have sensitive wrists this could be uncomfortable and it will require a bit of balance. Stretch one arm and the opposite leg, but keep them on the floor. Stabilize yourself and lift them up.
Do not lean into the opposite side. If this seems a hard, lift just one limb at the time.
This will activate your core muscles and also improve your back mobility.
Lay on the back, bend your knees and place your feet on the ground. Spread your arms for stability. Keep the knees tight and lower them together, slowly, to one side. Pull them back in the middle after a few seconds and lower them to the other side.
Do this really slowly in a controlled motion.
So, Is Pilates good for back pain is a complex question.
Make sure you know the cause of your back discomfort before you start your practice.
If you do it right, results are going to be visible, you just have to keep practicing.
It will strengthen your muscles, improve your posture and you are going to feel much better when your back pain disappears.