Pilates and its Benefit for Back Pain

By April 15, 2016May 13th, 2020Back Pain

Pilates is a series of vigorous exercises that lengthens and strengthens muscles simultaneously.  Pilates is unique in that it uses spring loaded equipment to provide resistance. This helps to ensure that no muscle is ever over or under trained.  Joseph Pilates originally called the system “contrology,” and strongly believed in the mind, body and spirit connection.

“Pilates develops the body uniformly, corrects wrong postures, restores physical vitality,

invigorates the mind, and elevates the spirit.”

– Joseph Pilates 

Millions of people suffer the physical and emotional toll of chronic back pain. Slipped or degenerative disks, genetic conditions like scoliosis, sports injuries, or simply having spent too many years sitting behind a desk can lead to reduced agility, restricted range of motion and an overall diminished quality of life. While some might attribute these negative effects to aging, it’s well known that with proper care and the right amount of exercise, the human body can function pain-free at almost any age. Pilates is an excellent method for achieving such a goal and can be used by anyone, at any level of fitness.

Single Leg Bridge – advanced exercise – should be done with both feet flat for a beginner. This exercise strengthens the glutes and hamstrings

Pilates exercises are specifically designed to address the underlying structural imbalances that lead to back pain by working through from the inner to outer muscles. The training also focuses on breathing and centering to achieve optimum postural alignment. This comprehensive process strengthens the body’s foundation or “core,” as it is commonly known today. Core strengthening is widely believed by licensed physical therapists to be one of the most effective ways to alleviate back pain naturally, and for the long term.

Because every individual’s physique and fitness level are different, Equinox’s Certified Pilates Instructors carefully work with clients in the first session to assess their strengths and weaknesses. Through this guided session a teacher can design an individually tailored exercise program that builds strength and avoids injury by working specific muscle groups at appropriate levels of intensity. The customized Pilates session focuses on a total body workout and quality of movement. It will include exercises designed to achieve spinal alignment and bring overall balance to the body. The spine will be safely bent forward, backward, side to side, and rotated in each session. These movements greatly increase strength, endurance and flexibility by targeting the abdominals, gluteus maximus, inner thighs and lower back. These core muscle groups function as the body’s powerhouse and when used properly, will greatly reduce or eliminate unnecessary pressure on the spine, joints, ligaments and tendons.

Pilates and Back Pain Blog_2

The “elephant” – the purpose is to isolate or stabilize the upper body while learning to initiate movement from the core and lower body. This exercise will help strengthen the “powerhouse” in turn helping your back feel relief.

The balanced work of Pilates leads to a marked and noticeable improvement in one’s posture, physique and ultimately self-esteem. Through Pilates you will increase self awareness and learn to move with better form, naturally carrying yourself with the spine straight and shoulders “lifted” during day to day tasks. You’ll move with a flow in line with the way your body was designed to be used. This will greatly reduce physical and emotional stress, eventually eliminating all unnecessary pain.

For more information on Pilates and its benefits, you can contact Pilates Coordinator & Lead Teacher Trainer; Alison Moffett alison.moffett@equinox.com. You can also visit the Equinox website https://www.equinox.com/

Written by Alison Moffett, Pilates Coordinator & Lead Teacher Trainer at Equinox, Westlake Village, CA

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  • My friend was in a car accident and sustained back pain. He was looking into a pilates class. You mentioned that pilates exercises are specifically designed to address the underlying structural imbalances that lead to back pain by working through from the inner to outer muscles. I didn’t realize that these exercises can help relieve chronic back pain. Are there different kinds of pilates? Do gyms offer these services?

  • Rachel says:

    I never knew that pilates could have so many benefits for your back. This might have to be an exercise I look into, because with two slipped disks in my lower back I’m subject to back pain every once and a while. Thanks for sharing.

  • Aaron Gibson says:

    Thanks, Chelsi! It’s an amazing blog. If Pilates can help people in relieving chronic pain then it is great. There are millions of people affected by back pain. These core exercises can help people to prevent pain too in the long run. Exercise has many health benefits for people of any age and gender. If there are gym instructors qualified enough to teach Pilates then more people would start doing it. It is better to do something about the pain rather than waiting for it to worsen over time.

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