Pilates is a great low-impact form of exercise. Not only does it increase your core strength and endurance level, but it has also been proven to decrease chronic back pain. Pilates focuses on how our body parts are lined up in relation to each other — our alignment. These exercises work to improve the strength and flexibility of your body and muscles. It concentrates on the hip and shoulder areas in particular to prevent unnecessary strain on the back. Pilates also teaches awareness of natural spine alignment and correct posture.
In fact, according to a small, randomized, controlled study published in the Journal of Orthopedic & Sports Physical Therapy, participants who practiced Pilates over a four-week period experienced more relief from their symptoms than those who went through typical treatment programs.
There are many exercises that focus specifically on your back to address the underlying structural imbalances of your body and spine that lead to back pain. Doing Pilates increases the awareness of the proper placement of the spine and pelvis, which can decrease back pain. It also helps to train the core muscles so that they can support and stabilize the back while also increasing the potential range of motion of the spine.
Things to Keep In Mind
- If you are new to Pilates, you should start out with fundamental Pilates rather than focusing directly on your back.
- Breathe — deep breathing helps support the core muscles of your trunk.
- Focus on your ab muscles! Your abdominal muscles affect your back muscles; a strong core leads to a strong back.
- Be aware of your posture. Keep your neck long, and your shoulders down and away from your ears.
- These exercises are supposed to help, not hurt. So feel free to go slow, and stop if pain increases.
Although Pilates may be very helpful for your back problems, it is important to check with your physician to know if Pilates is right for you, especially if you have a diagnosed condition. It is also crucial to make sure your instructor is professionally trained and understands your specific back problems so they can properly help you. You can also supplement your Pilates workout with the use of ActivAided. If your back pain continues, ask a doctor or physical therapist for help.