How Pilates Can Relieve Lower Back Pain

If you have lower back pain, you know that many different types of treatment approaches exist. These include stretching, functional training, postural exercises, hot and cold therapy, and general exercise. How does Pilates fit into the spectrum of lower back treatment options? By combining some of the most important aspects of what it takes to relieve lower back pain. General lower back pain is difficult to diagnose—many different musculoskeletal imbalances could be contributing to your pain. In general, Pilates routines are an effective way to obtain strength, balance, and flexibility throughout your body. They work to specifically relieve lower back pain by targeting the core muscle groups that support the spine.

Better Alignment For A Healthy Back

The structure of the back is designed to act as a support for nearly every move the body makes. Keeping the back pain free involves focusing on the stabilizing muscles that surround your spine in the lower back. Not only that, it’s also key to strengthen the abdominals and obliques around your core. All of these muscles support the alignment of the spine’s natural curvature. Studies have shown that Pilates is more effective than minimal physical exercise interventions in reducing chronic lower back pain. Lower back pain is usually caused by abnormal pulling and tightness of muscles in the area. This happens when muscles in the back compensate for stabilizing muscles that are weak, which could be the ones in your core. By strengthening and mobilizing the muscles that keep your back aligned, you’ll correct the imbalances that may be causing your lower back pain. A simple move to engage your lower abdominals might include The Single-Leg Stretch:

Therapydia Pilates Lower Back Pain Treatment

• Begin on your back with your knees bent into your chest and shins parallel to the floor
• While exhaling, pull your abs in as you curl your head and shoulders up
• Continue until you reach the tips of your shoulder blades
• Extend 1 leg straight to a 45 degree angle
• As you do so, place both hands on the opposite shin
• Place the outside hand near the ankle, inside hand near the knee
• Focus on engaging your core as you switch your legs
• Extend your opposite leg straight and pull the opposite knee into your hands

Extend To Your Neck & Hips

Therapydia Pilates Lower Back Pain Treatment

Certain Pilates movements also focus on getting your hips and neck muscles aligned with the rest of your spine. Your pelvic and neck areas are extensions of your core. Without alignment and stabilization extending up and down into those parts of your body, you’re going to keep having issues in your back. Beneficial movements for your neck and shoulders might include what are called Scapular Isolations:

• Lie on your back with your knees bent
• Reach your hands with your palms facing in straight up towards the ceiling
• Keeping your head down, inhale and reach your shoulders off the mat
• As you do this, focus on stretching upwards

Exercises for the muscles in the neck and shoulders work to increase their range of motion while also strengthening the muscles in your upper and middle back. With lower back issues, increasing strength and flexibility in your hips and glutes also plays a big role in treating pain. Pilates movements such as The Bridge Roll-Up help to strengthen the glutes and core stabilizers while also improving hip extension:

Therapydia Pilates Lower Back Pain Treatment

• Start by lying on the floor with your knees bent and arms at your sides
• Widen across the chest and slowly raise your pelvis and lower back off of the floor
• As you do this, inhale and focus on pulling in towards your belly
• Pause for a bit as you maintain that bridge with your hips and lower back
• Slowly lower your bottom back towards the ground

By keeping your glutes and pelvic muscles activated, you’ll be taking that extra pressure off of your lower back.

Relieve Stress On Your Spine

Therapydia Lower Back Pain Treatment

Pain in your lower back isn’t usually caused by just issues in your back. Pilates strengthens those weaker muscles that stabilize your spine to relieve lower back pain. If you go into Pilates with lower back pain, you may be able to see a decrease in pain and symptoms within 4 to 5 sessions. If you have any conditions that affect the spine such as scoliosis, sciatica, or any nerve impingement consult with your doctor or physical therapist to see which specific Pilates movements would be the most beneficial for your rehabilitation. Almost everyone who goes into a Pilates program with lower back pain would be able to benefit. Athletes have begun to use Pilates as a way to maintain or improve core stability and control for better performance. Even if you sit at a desk all day and feel some tightness in your lower back, working on spinal alignment could offer you the relief you need.

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