By: Dr. Kristie
Pilates exercises help to build beautiful abdominal muscles, but can they relieve back pain too? Even some physical therapists and chiropractors recommend Pilates for chronic back pain. Can Pilates training take the edge off of lower back discomfort?
Pilates for Back Pain: Does It Help?
According to a study published in the Journal of Sports Rehabilitation, Pilates exercises help to ease back pain. Participants who took part in fifteen Pilates training sessions had less back pain and were able to walk better after completing this training. Even better was the fact the 39 adults who took part in this program still had less back pain a year later. Great abs and less back pain. Pilates training has its advantages.
Why Do Pilates Exercises Work?
Pilates training strengthens core muscles, the group of muscles that work in unison to stabilize the spine. Pilates focuses on all of the core muscles so the spine is more balanced and stable, which helps to reduce stress on the back. Focusing on only the abdominal muscles without strengthening the muscles of the back, as some exercise classes do, can de-stabilize the spine and worsen back pain.
Pilates exercise also improves posture and spinal alignment, creating a neutral spine where the three natural curves of the back are in proper alignment. This greatly reduces stress on the back and spine and even helps expand the lungs better during breathing.
Pilates also helps to stretch out achy lower back muscles and reduce tightness and spasm. Although some people are reluctant to exercise with back pain, controlled stretching exercises are one of the best ways to relieve back discomfort. Studies show that bed rest and lack of activity actually makes back pain worse, not better.
Pilates for Back Pain: The Bottom Line?
Pilates for back pain has many benefits. It helps to strengthen core muscles that support and stabilize the spine – and improves posture and flexibility. It also reduces the risk of further back injury by strengthening the muscles that support the spine. Another bonus? You could end up with a six-pack too.
Fitness Prescription. February 2011. page 26.