How pilates help lower back pain

by | Health

Many of us suffer from some kind of a back-related pain. Depending on your cause, symptoms can vary, but they are always disturbing. My chronical lower back troubles inspired me to research and compile possible causes of the problem.

The most common causes of lower back pain:

  • Bone. You can get pain from spinal bones or vertebrae (one of 33 small bones of the backbone). It can be from fracture or bone diseases like osteoporosis or osteopenia. These conditions are detected by an x-ray or blood test during a routine check up.
  • Joint Inflammation. This is apparently the most common cause of pain in the lower back. It resides in the facet joint (the joints between spine bones). It is usually most painful to lean backwards or to the side. Though it can hurt during all movements. These symptoms are typically localized in the lower back or buttock areas and do not expand down the legs. The joint can be irritated for several reasons: awkward or quick movements, bone conditions or arthritis.
  • Osteoarthritis. The primary cause of osteoarthritis is overuse of the joint. This can be due to years of use and repetitive movements from sport or work activities. Osteoarthritis symptoms appear in the same way as joint inflammation but associated more with stiffness.
  • Nerve Root Compression. Nerve root compression is also called lumbar radicular pain or sciatica. Nerve root compression happens when the nerve that exits the spine get partly compressed. It brings the characteristic sharp, electric-like pain.
  • Disc. This is the dreaded word for any patient. The symptoms of a disc issue include nerve compression, causing a shooting pain. It usually radiates through the buttock down your leg. Often the symptoms you experience in the leg can be more irritating than the actual lower back pain.

Lower back pain can be one of those injuries where it affects your everyday life and well-being. There are many options that you can choose to for your lower back pain. From seeing a doctor and getting medication to doing stretches to relieve the pain. Sometimes the medicine just doesn’t cut it anymore. There are alternative methods that can help strengthen lower back muscles while reducing the pain. Today, we will cover what Pilates is and what the exercises can help you.

Pilates Explained

Pilates exercise incorporates multiple disciplines including yoga, basic ballet, and resistance training. The focus in Pilates is strengthening the core. Strengthening the core includes the abdominal muscles, the obliques and the paraspinal muscles that align with the spine and the buttock. By building a stronger core, you, in fact, build a stronger body overall for posture, balance, and movement.

Benefits of Pilates

Pilates help to condition your whole body. Even the ankles and feet get naturally involved. No muscle whatsoever is over- or under-trained. Your entire body is complexly balanced and toned. You tend to enjoy daily activities and sports more while training pilates. Your performance is better and risk of injury lower.Even many professional athletes use Pilates as a regular part of their training schedule.

A refreshing mind-body workout. Concentration on smooth, flowing movement, proper breathing, correct spinal/pelvic alignment. You become naturally in tune with your own body. Learning to breathe properly is stress reducing.

Developing a strong core. Pilates exercises lead to a strong core. You will develop deep, flat abdominals and a strong back.

Gain long and lean muscles. Traditional workouts are weight bearing.  They result in building short, bulky muscles. It is the type most prone to injury. Pilates exercises elongate and strengthen, improving joint mobility and muscle elasticity. A balanced and flexible body is much less likely to be injured.

Create an evenly conditioned body. A lot of the conventional workouts focus on the same muscles during the training. The weak muscles then get weaker and strong muscles get stronger. It results in so-called muscular imbalance. It might be the primary cause of injury and chronic back pain later.

Four Pilates Exercises for Lower Back Pain

What typically happens with lower back pain is that the core is weakened and thus is injured. With Pilates, you strengthen these muscles and stabilize the spine to prevent further injury. Here are the four Pilate exercises you can use to aid you in strengthening as well as stretching the core. These exercises all can be done on the floor of your home. You will also want to start with three to five sets and build up from there.

Pelvic Tilt

To get into the position, you first lie flat on your back with your arms by your side with your knees up and your feet flat on the ground. Breathe in pushing your belly button down for a count of five while holding your breath. Raise up your hips off the mat and hold for five seconds and then slowly let your hips down and breathe out.

Pelvic Curl

Lying down in the same position as the pelvic tilt. You start by breathing in. Raise up your lower back and your buttocks off the ground and hold for five seconds. Then slowly exhale and lower your body back down gently with you back first then your buttock to the original starting position.


Start by sitting up, trying to find your center. The best is to sit on your tailbone while being able to hold your balance. You will want to keep your legs bent and when you come off the floor with doing a sit-up hold for a five count. Then turn your legs and release lying all the way back down.


For this position, you lie flat on your stomach and extend your arms and legs out with your chin tucked down. You will and the raise your arms and legs off the ground and move them up and down as if you were swimming. Do this for five to ten seconds then relax.

Are you just starting out with Pilates or thinking of giving it a go?

Here are my 5 tips for Pilates beginners:

  • First things first: Find a Pilates teacher. Find a good teacher in your local area and get the basic principles. Join a beginner’s class that might be even free. An experienced teacher will give you a proper introduction to Pilates. You need to see first what each exercise looks and feels like. A good trainer will respond to your individual needs.
  • Have patience and think positive. Results in Pilates come from a consistent and regular approach. When you are patient and systematic in your approach to Pilates, you achieve your fitness goals naturally. Positive thinking is also important. It is also helpful to have a realistic goal to aim for. Be honest with yourself about your body – about its strengths and weaknesses. Consult with your teacher for help with reaching your goals.
  • Don’t push your body too hard. No pain, no gain – I am sure you’ve heard this old fitness ‘truth’. But this is definitely not the Pilates way 🙂 If you ever find an exercise painful, stop immediately. Certainly, some discomfort will be a part of working your body in new ways. But please, listen to your body carefully.
  • Make time for yourself. Make enough time for your Pilates practice (preferably on a regular basis). Turn your mobile off and take the quiet time for yourself regularly. Your body will thank you and you will feel more relaxed for the rest of the day. Ask your trainer for tips related to your specific lifestyle.
  • Don’t rush: experience what it’s like to slow down. Pilates is a slow, flowing exercise. Rushing it up will not make it better. Taking more time for an exercise will make it more challenging. It will also increase its level of effectiveness. Choose a program that fits you and go through it in the most natural and effective way. If you want to play music while you exercise, choose something with a soft and slow beat. I prefer to practice without music. I just need to be able to listen to my body rhythm and my breathing.

Notes: Why Pilates could be the secret weapon for back pain