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.



At Therapydia Denver we strive to help our patients feel better as quickly as possible.  In some cases, regular treatment sessions and a solid home exercise program are not all that is necessary for a speedy recovery.

Here is a list of items the Therapydia PTs often suggest for patients to purchase for home use:

KT Tape


KT tape is a specific brand of tape that is used to promote healing, manage swelling and enhance your body’s control of muscles and joints while not limiting range of motion.  It can be worn for 3-4 days at a time and rarely causes skin issues.  With instruction from a Therapydia PT, most people are able to apply the tape in a safe and effective manner.

We like KT Tape specifically because the strips are pre-cut and rounded, ready for application right out of the box.

KT Tape is most commonly suggested for patients with: shoulder pain, golfers elbow, tennis elbow, knee pain, plantar fasciitis

Lumbar Support


Many low back, neck and even shoulder issues can be exacerbated by poor Lumbar Support during prolonged sitting.  If the curve in your low back is allowed to flatten out, it essentially starts a chain reaction which can adversely affect structures above and below your spine.

We like this particular lumbar support because it is affordable, portable and durable.

Lumbar Support is most commonly suggested for patients with: low back pain, sciatica, shoulder pain, neck pain, headaches



Numerous studies show that low back pain is accompanied by absent, poor or incorrect activation of important core muscles.  The Stabilizer  gives the patient immediate and accurate feedback, letting them know if they are doing their prescribed exercises properly.  It essentially increases the quality of core exercises at home.

A standard blood pressure cuff can be used for the same purpose, but they are often too sensitive to give useful feedback.  We like this particular stabilizer because it is durable and just sensitive enough to give the patient only the information they need.

A Stabilizer is most commonly suggested for patients with: low back pain, sciatica, sacroiliac joint (SI joint) pain, hip pain

Foam Roller


The Foam Roller has been suggested by healthcare professionals for years and for good reason.  They are extremely helpful for loosening up tight muscles and fascia between sessions with your Therapydia PT.  After careful instruction, they are also effective at loosening up tight spinal joints that make achieving proper posture difficult.

We prefer the 36 inch round roller as it can be used for the widest variety of exercises and activities.  This particular roller is affordable, extremely durable and more dense than others on the market.

A Foam Roller is most commonly suggested for patients with: knee pain, hip pain, upper back pain, shoulder pain, neck pain

Roller Stick


The Roller Stick is essentially used for the same purpose as a foam roller.  The main difference is that this hand-held tool allows the patient to control the amount of pressure, whereas a foam roller usually incorporates body weight.

We like this roller stick because it is much more portable than a foam roller and allows the patient to reach some areas that may be tough to address with a foam roller.

The Roller Stick is most commonly suggested for patients that travel frequently and suffer from: knee pain, hip pain, calf pain, achilles tendon pain, plantar fasciitis

Metatarsal Pad


A number of aches and pains in the foot may arise from a fallen transverse (or forefoot) arch. A Metatarsal Pad is used to brace this portion of the foot, thus restoring the natural shape of the forefoot and dissipating compressive forces.

We like these particular metatarsal pads because they are affordable, durable and self adhesive.  When applied between the insole and the shoe they tend to stay in position during most activities.

Metatarsal Pads are most commonly suggested for patients with: metatarsalgia, morton’s neuroma, forefoot callus

Heel Lift


A Heel Lift can be used to treat a leg length discrepancy as well as a variety of achilles tendon issues.  When properly applied, a heel lift can essentially level out a patient’s pelvis which can provide rapid alleviation of hip, knee and lumbar spine pain.  A heel lift can also alter the amount of tension on the achilles tendon to allow for proper healing after an injury.  

We like this particular heel lift because it is affordable and adjustable.  This allows for proper fit and progressive increases in tension to the achilles tendon as healing continues.

A Heel Lift is most commonly suggested for patients with: leg length discrepancy, hip pain, sacroiliac joint (SI joint) pain, achilles tendonitis, achilles tendon rupture