Lower Back Pain (LBP) affects most people at some point in their lives. In a majority of cases, LBP can be significantly reduced or completely relieved with Pilates. The combination of deep abdominal strengthening, postural awareness, and release and stretching exercises makes Pilates extremely effective in the prevention and treatment of LBP.
The Neutral Spine position taught in Pilates is used as the most functionally ideal or “perfect” posture for our bodies. The strong focus on core (deep abdominal) strengthening creates stronger support muscles for the spine. By implementing these techniques into your everyday life, you begin to fix the problem at the cause, rather than only treat the symptoms.
The exercises below can be used as a guide to relieving non-specific LBP (i.e. not as a result of an acute injury or condition), and are recommended to be done daily to most effectively treat and prevent LBP.
1. Pelvic Tilt or Imprinting
This simple but effective exercise gets the deep core muscle switched on and builds strength in the support system of the spine.
Core and abdominal strengthening exercise.
Progression: Legs at table-top.
3. Supine Spinal Twist
Rotation helps to stretch the back muscles and controlling this movement also helps to strengthen the oblique muscles to further support the spine.
Progression: Legs at table top.
4. Hamstring and Hip Flexor Stretch
There is a strong correlation between LBP and tight hamstrings and hip flexors. Stretching these muscles helps to immediately relief tension in the back and continued stretching over time will help improve the posture in the lower back.
Hip Flexor Stretch:
5. Roll Backs
Moving the spine using the abdominal muscles as done in this exercise, helps to not only stretch and relieve tension in the back muscles, but also helps to strengthen the core and abdominals. It immediately creates a greater ease of movement in the spine.
Tip: Try to keep the pelvic floor lifted and each vertebra lifted off one another throughout the entire exercise, rather than a sinking feeling into the curve.
6. Kneeling Arm and Leg Reach
This exercise works the entire stabilising muscle system for the torso.
If you find it too difficult to control the torso and spine when lifting the arm and leg, you can omit the lift until you have the strength in the core, or do the entire exercise but with arms and legs separately.
As always, it is recommended to consult your doctor or specialist before beginning a new exercise program if you do suffer from LBP. Depending on the cause, some exercises may not be advisory. In some cases, it may also be necessary to be under the supervised guidance of a qualified Pilates instructor.
This content was originally published here.