Can Pilates help with back pain?


So you’re wondering if Pilates can help with your back pain? There are so many options out there when it comes to exercise and back pain – so how does Pilates fit?

We hope this helps…

What is pilates?

Pilates comes in all shapes and sizes – at it’s core (pardon the pun) it’s really just a way to move your body and promote strength, flexibility and control. Clinical Pilates is what we do at Equip Physiotherapy. Clinical Pilates is machine based (meaning we use different types of equipment like reformers) and we use a movement assessment system to develop a program specifically for you.

What’s great about Pilates (and especially Clinical Pilates) is we can tailor the program to suit your needs (whether that’s get stronger, more mobile or even manage back pain)

What about back pain?

If you’re reading this and have (or have had back pain) you’re in the majority of the population. In fact at least 80% of the population have experienced low back pain at some point. So you are definitely not alone.

Not all back pain is the same though. A lot of the time it settles down relatively quickly without needing any specific intervention, but unfortunately it does tend to come back again (the biggest predictor of a future episode of back pain is if you’ve had a previous episode). And sometimes back pain persists and becomes a chronic problem.

Why is pilates good for back pain?

Pilates can be an excellent way to manage current episodes of back pain or promote good movement health to reduce the impact of future episodes. There are some short term and long term benefits of moving your body with back pain.

Short term effects:

Our bodies are designed to move: motion is lotion!

Here are some short term benefits:

  • Increase activity of muscles
  • Promote body awareness
  • Improve your confidence with movement
  • Reduce stress
  • Overall → reduce your low back pain

Long term effects:

  • Reduce stiffness
  • Improve balance, strength, flexibility, stability and coordination
  • Increased awareness and confidence in what you’re body is actually capable of (hint: it’s more than you’re probably aware!)
  • Prevention of low back pain episodes and/or severity in the future

But I’m worried that joining a class will aggravate my back. Is it really for me?

This is a common concern. It’s the main reason we use Clinical Pilates at Equip Physiotherapy.

Our classes are run by a trained Physiotherapist. We conduct a thorough one-one assessment prior to joining. This will help us understand you, your history and your goals. As a Physio, we are knowledgeable about the body and how different types of back pain present.

This testing enable us to create an individualised and safe program for you to help you achieve your goals. In the class everyone has their own program designed specifically for them and everyone works at their own pace.

So is Clinical Pilates better than everything else when it comes to exercise and back pain?

No. It’s not but it is probably the most versatile and inclusive option available. Clinical Pilates allows us to tailor a program to any age or ability. So if you have back pain you can absolutely engage in Pilates to assist your recovery.

Chantel Pal & Tim Cathers

Winston Hills | Physiotherapy | Clinical Pilates

Tim Cathers

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