Pilates for Lower Back Pain 

With the vast majority of us spending most of our time sitting down, lower back pain has become a common ailment. However, it doesn’t have to be. 

Regular Pilates exercise has been found to mobilize the spine and offer relief to lower back pain sufferers. 

If you spend too much time hunched over a screen, read on to discover the best Pilates exercises for improving your lower back pain. 

How Pilates can help with back pain

Lower back pain is, unfortunately, a common condition that affects most people at some point in their lives. However, for many, back pain can be relieved through Pilates.  

The great thing about Pilates is that exercises can be done in a studio or at home when you need to stretch out after a long day stuck at your desk.  

All you need to get started is comfortable clothing and a pilates mat – a yoga or exercise mat works too! 

How can Pilates help with back pain?  

Pilates is a low-impact exercise that focuses on strengthening your abdominal and pelvic floor muscles. A strong core stabilizes and provides support to your back, relieving pain.  

Pilates also improves posture, mobility and body awareness which can help prevent back pain before it begins.  

Engaging in Pilates can also reduce stress and improve mental health. This is especially useful for anyone that carries tension in their back during periods of stress.  

Which Pilates exercises to do for back pain relief  

While Pilates is designed to work the whole body, there are specific exercises that target the back to relieve pain. 

Pelvic curl 

The pelvic curl is perfect for beginners. This move is often used at the start of a class to warm up the spine and abdominal muscles.  

To get into this position, you’ll want to lie on your back with your legs bent. Engage your abs before tilting your pelvis upwards until your shoulders and knees are parallel.  

Your abdominal muscles should do the heavy lifting here, not your glutes like they would in a bridge.  

Make sure to start the exercise with a neutral spine – there’s no need to push your lower back into the floor. 

This exercise helps teach you how to control each movement of the vertebrae in your spine.   

Supine Spine Twist 

The supine spine twist is the perfect Pilates exercise for anyone guilty of sitting down too long.  

This exercise improves spinal mobility by stretching deep into the spine, glutes and chest.  

Start by lying flat, before twisting one leg over the opposite side of your body. You’ll feel a stretch and twist in your back but don’t force your knee to the floor to extend this.  

Make sure to always listen to your body and how you feel when deciding if you can stretch further.  

Back extension 

A back extension is a great Pilates exercise designed to engage both the weaker back extensor and abdominal muscles.  

For this exercise, you’ll want to lie on your front with your arms by your side – your forehead can be raised on a towel or yoga block. Then slowly rise up and hold to breathe at the top. Repeat this exercise to feel that lower back release. 

Back extensions are important for building lumbar strength which can improve your lower back pain. 

Swan prep 

Another exercise designed to strengthen back extensor muscles is the swan prep. These muscles are vital at holding our spine tall and strong. If your extensor muscles are weak, you’ll likely have increased lower back pain. 

To do a swan prep, lie face down on your mat and bring your arms bent under your shoulders. Then slowly lift up by pushing your hands into the floor.  

Lengthen the spine and engage your abs to ensure you avoid adding further strain to your back.  

Don’t worry if you don’t start with much height and struggle to get off the ground, these muscles are often underutilized and need to be gently worked over time. 

Child’s pose 

Often a Pilates class favorite, child’s pose is an exercise that you can do almost anywhere to reset. This exercise gives your body a gentle breather to stretch out the spine, hips and legs.  

For an efficient child’s pose, kneel on your mat and push your glutes back onto your heels. Push your knees out and reach your arms forward while continuing to push back. Rest your forehead on the floor if it’s comfortable. 

You’ll be able to breathe deep in this position and feel your body relax. Take the time to enjoy this pose.  

Summary of Pilates for lower back pain 

Back pain might be commonplace in modern society but it can improve through Pilates exercises.  

Don’t let back pain get you down, check out Pilates studios for lower back pain near you on the ClassPass app.  

Lucy Elizabeth Moffat is a Senior Content Marketing Executive and freelance writer living in London. When she’s not at her desk, you’ll find her exploring new fitness studios, planning her next trip away, or curling up with a book. Sunflowers make her smile, you can connect with her on confessionsofalondoner.com.
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