Pilates and Back Pain

To those with back pain, it might sound counterintuitive to exercise when dealing with back problems. Today, most medical professionals actually recommend careful exercise for those who suffer from back pain. Because your spine is such a delicate part of the body, it is crucial to see your doctor before starting any exercise program for back pain.

Pilates is an exercise that focuses on alignment of the body, which is why some chiropractors and doctors recommend it for back pain. Pilates emphasizes core strength, proper posture, spinal flexibility, and overall body awareness. Back pain can be a sign that the spine’s alignment is off, so if this is the case with your back, Pilates can help to address it. A healthy spine should be able to take minor twists and turns throughout the day without straining. If your range of motion is limited, Pilates is an exercise to consider if your back condition is not a chronic one.


Is Pilates for You?
Pilates is mostly just recommended for relieving back muscle pain. It is a great way to build muscle strength in the back and promote proper alignment, but take note that if your back pain stems from an internal spinal condition, such as disc slippage or herniation, you should not do Pilates unless a health care professional specifically recommends it.

Some doctors are even skeptical of Pilates’ ability to help with back pain at all. Check with your health care professional if you suffer from chronic back pain. Depending on the severity of your condition, Pilates could actually worsen it since it is an intense physical activity. Also, you should consult with a Pilates instructor before starting Pilates because improper stretching and movements can strain the back.

Starting a Pilates Program
Due to the intense physical demand of Pilates, everyone, regardless of health status, should check with a physician before attempting a Pilates workout program. If you suffer from back pain and your doctor allows you to start Pilates, it’s best to find a qualified instructor who will do private Pilates sessions. Group instruction is not recommended for back pain sufferers because there will be a lack of individual attention, and when your instructor is tending to someone else, you run the risk of straining yourself worsening your back condition.

You can choose a Pilates instructor with experience in back pain management, or you can work with a physical therapist who is trained in rehabilitation Pilates. These professionals will offer exercises to help you manage your current back pain as well as prevent further injury in the future.

Before you start a Pilates program, make sure that your instructor answers all of your questions and addresses all of your pain concerns. A certified instructor should be able to modify the Pilates exercises as necessary so that you can work out without feeling pain.

Because Pilates won’t work for everyone, it’s vital that you check with your doctor before pursuing a Pilates exercise program. If your doctor clears you for this workout, research your options on available qualified instructors or physical therapists so that you can do the right moves for your back, alleviate your back pain, and promote proper alignment.

Filed Under: Back Pain
Written By:  Updated:
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Jesse Cannone, CFT, CPRS, MFT

Jesse is the co-founder and visionary CEO of The Healthy Back Institute®, the world-leading source of natural back pain solutions. His mission as a former back pain sufferer is to help others live pain free without surgery and pharmaceuticals.

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