Many of us will experience back pain at some point in our lives. Usually from injury, but also increasingly because we are working and living more sedentary lifestyles, crouching over keyboards all day long.
Once we hit our thirties, it’s easy for back pain to become a chronic issue that exacerbates other health challenges like arthritis and even depression.
If you have back pain, someone has likely recommended you try Pilates in the past. And you probably nodded and thought about how it wasn’t for you or how it couldn’t possibly help.
The reality of it is that Pilates actually does hold many benefits for those of us that suffer from back pain.
Pilates specifically targets your core strength and helps you build better posture, two things that have been shown to help relieve back pain and support injury relief.
So how does Pilates work for back pain? Let’s look at the details.
Where Back Pain Comes From
Sometimes back pain can be caused not by the muscles in the back, but by a misalignment in the hips and pelvic region. This is commonly due to bad posture habits, such as shifting your weight from leg to leg or crossing your legs when you sit.
Pilates is designed to address these imbalances and strengthen the surrounding muscles to keep you within the proper posture.
An experienced Pilates instructor can help spot these issues even if you might not know they are the cause of your back pain. By watching you perform certain exercises, they can tell whether your hips need aligning to take away strain on the back.
Many of us today work desk jobs or jobs that require us to be sedentary. Over time, these bad postures lead to a weakening of the gluteal muscles which can cause strain on the lower back as a result. Pilates helps you work on achieving a neutral spine that maintains the natural and healthy curve of the spine.
How Pilates Helps For Back Pain
A good Pilates workout can act similarly to a sports massage, bringing relief to bunched-up or tight muscles. Experts recommend that if you struggle with back pain, you should try to practice Pilates at least two to three times a week to start seeing the results.
Now bear in mind these workouts don’t have to be crazy sweat sessions that leave you exhausted every time. They can be as easy as doing a few stretches at home or in the office during the day and attending your Pilates studio classes during the evening.
As you work on your Pilates skills, you’ll find over time that you are unconsciously making use of healthier postures and movement patterns in your everyday life. This is because it teaches you to have a better awareness of your spine and hip alignment which in turn reduces the strain on your back.
It’s important to speak to your instructor about any injuries or specific back pain you may have. Some Pilates exercises are not suitable for your type of injury, and so having an instructor close by to prevent you from taking them on is key.
Other Back Pain Tips
If you do struggle with back pain and are interested in trying Pilates, don’t be afraid to speak to your general physician, physiotherapist, or chiropractor about your concerns and which movements are best avoided.
When they give you the go-ahead, make sure you start with the basics and make sure that you are focusing on activating your core while keeping your spine neutral.
During Pilates classes, you want to try and use a Pilates mat that has additional padding to keep your spine safe. Remember nothing you do during your Pilates session should cause you pain, and if it does try to do a modification with your instructor.
Pilates is a great form of exercise for people who suffer from back pain, provided that they work with an experienced instructor and have approval from their general physicians. It’s all about building a stronger core with better body alignment to remove strain from the spine, and with enough Pilates practice, you can find significant relief from back pain.