This is a question we get asked all the time in the studio. Back pain can range from very mild to debilitating and can be caused by a number of issues to do with the hamstrings, glutes, feet, knees, back muscles, hip flexors and postural imbalances. There may also be spinal conditions such as scoliosis, Scheuermann’s disease, compressed nerves and arthritis as well as injuries caused by an accident or sporting related. While some of these conditions won’t necessarily go away, a regular Pilates practice can help manage the symptoms through strength and mobility work.
Firstly it’s important to see someone like your GP, osteo or physio to rule out anything medical related or serious. Then it’s time to book in for a Pilates assessment. The first thing we do is identify what may be contributing to the back pain. Each person has a different set of strengths/weaknesses and therefore a personalised approach is required to address any movement patterning issues.
Targeted Pilates exercises and stretches can help greatly reduce lower back pain and maintain a healthy spine, but we usually work the whole body so that you are able to function efficiently in your day to day life.
You may have heard of the six Pilates principles:
1. Breath – the foundation upon which the Pilates method is built on. It is the link that connects the body and mind and is the force behind the exercises and movement.
2. Centre – refers to our centre of gravity, which varies from person to person as well as the core muscles of the body (also the reason behind our name).
3. Flow – Each exercise should be performed gracefully and smoothly with each movement flowing onto the next. Grace under pressure!
4. Concentration – an exercise can be performed with a connection to the body that allows focus to be on the alignment and breath coordination.
5. Control – how deliberately an exercise is executed. The more control there is, the better alignment and knowledge of the body.
6. Precision – Precise execution helps retrain the body to move in a better and more aligned way. Knowing some basic anatomy helps to know which muscles should be working and which
Applying and maintaining these principles throughout the session will increase the efficacy and benefits of the exercises. This one of the important things that distinguishes Pilates from other forms of exercise.
So, what exercises are good for back pain? Most of the Pilates repertoire is beneficial assuming there are no underlying medical conditions or injuries. The good news is that if you do have a condition that is causing you pain, almost every exercise in Pilates can be modified and broken down so everyone can get the benefits.
Some of our favourite exercises are Feet in Straps, Scooter, Elephant, Up Stretch, the long stretch series, Mermaid, lunges and splits. But there are so many it really is hard to narrow it down.
Book in with us to start your back care journey and get on top of those annoying aches and pains.