Pilates for Lower Back Pain




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Published November 24, 2020

What is the problem?

Did you know that 60-80% of adults will experience lower back pain during their lifetime?

In Australia, it is the second leading cause of disease burden. Approximately 4 million Australians had back problems between 2017-18 including 181,000 hospitalizations. Lower back pain in one of the most common causes of pain worldwide, so it’s not surprising we are used to treating it at Pilates Can! 

Lower back pain can be acute or chronic and covers a range of injuries and conditions related to bones, joints, connective tissue, muscles, and nerves. There are many causes for back pain. Factors relating to age, fitness, lifestyle, weight, or occupation can all impact the onset and severity of lower back pain. In Australia, most lower back problems present after the age of 24 and are slightly more common in males.

(Source: Prevalence of back problems by age group and sex 2017-18 AIHW)

Just because lower back pain is common, it does not mean it is normal and there is nothing you can do. In addition to the physical pain, back pain can cause significant limitations to body function and movement. It also can take a big toll on someone’s mental health— the rate of depression can be as high as nearly 50% in people with lower back pain! But it’s not all bad news, with the right help and persistence, lower back pain can be significantly reduced or even completely rehabilitated.  

In this article, we’ll discuss the benefits of Pilates and back pain specific exercises to your spinal health.

How Pilates can Help?

Pilates is a great evidence-based tool to fight lower back pain

It differs from other exercise because it targets functional movement. The best Pilates exercises for back pain are designed to strengthen and increase movement in key muscle groups that support healthy everyday movement. By rebuilding the strength and movement in the lower back and muscles that support the lower back, Pilates can safely rehabilitate lower back pain. 

Don’t just take it from us— systematic research shows a strong link between Pilates and lower back pain improvement. Of course, not all Pilates practice is the same. The best results are achieved through individualized practice with experienced clinically trained practitioners, as well as utilizing speciality Pilates equipment.

Every lower back injury is different, whether it presents as different pain or is caused and trigger from different activities. It takes a specialized and personalized approach to really make a difference. At Pilates Can, we start with a thorough assessment of lower back pain, including medical history and pain onset. We then develop a tailor-made Pilates program designed to rebuild and maximize movement based on the specific problem areas.

We have seen so many success stories using Pilates to rehabilitate lower back pain. We love seeing the improvements in our clients and hearing how Pilates has improved their quality of life.

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Case study

Cat (43) has been doing Pilates to manage reoccurring injuries since 2003.

She developed a chronic lower back injury from sedentary desk work and high-pressure sports, which then worsened through pregnancies. During both her pregnancies, Cat relied on crutches to get around. In the years following she found it difficult to walk and preform everyday activities.

She was found to have an unreliable sacroiliac joint (SJI) that was easily aggravated. Cat committed to and persisted with rehabilitation using Pilates for chronic back pain, physio, and massage therapy. She credits Pilates for rebuilding and maintaining her back strength through increased her body awareness, movement, and control. Pilates also saved Cat from a major surgery involving fusing her pelvis together. With the help of Pilates, Cat now freely enjoys walking, swimming, and playing golf, and is committed to keeping up her Pilates program to prevent further injury. 

“Pilates has been critical in allowing me to manage my injury… It’s also amazing to know that if it does flare up, I have a place to go that will make it better”

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- cat stuart

There are so many stories like Cat’s that show how the benefits of Pilates for back pain can make a long-term difference to lower back pain. 

You might be our next one!

About the author 

Claire Gunther is a PAA Principal Level Pilates Instructor with over 20 years and 20k+ hours of professional Pilates delivery experience.


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