Pilates & Low Back Pain

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Struggling to get out of bed each morning because of lower back pain? Maybe you’re getting those niggling lower back aches after sitting at your desk from 9-5? Lower back pain has affected us all at one stage or another, with some suffering from prolonged and intense pain that doesn’t seem to go away on its own. 

If you’ve seen any one of our practitioners at Connect Healthcare for help with your lower back pain, I can guarantee that they all would have recommended one thing to help…exercise! 

Yes, a manipulation or dry needling from a chiropractor, or perhaps a muscle release or mobilisation from a physiotherapist may help with any acute pain…but exercise is the answer for long term results to keep those aches and pains away for good. 

Non-specific low back pain is a significant health problem across the globe. Exercise based interventions are now one of the most used treatment methods for patients with this condition. More recently, the Pilates method has become a popular form of exercise in clinical practice to help with core stability and to strengthen the muscles that support the spine. 

Pilates is a form of low-impact exercise that aims to strengthen muscles while improving postural alignment and flexibility. Pilates uses muscle control, breathing, strength training and body awareness to target core postural muscles, particularly abdominals, back and glutes – although the exercises work other areas of your body as well.

When practicing Pilates, the exercises should be controlled and precise with a focus on form and quality, rather than the number of repetitions or how fast you can go!

At Connect Healthcare, we offer two types of Pilates: mat classes and reformer classes. All of our classes focus on the principles of Pilates, including core control, breathing, postural alignment, flexibility and precision.

If you’re suffering from lower back pain and want to give Pilates a try, below are five matwork Pilates exercises that you can try at home!

Pelvic Tilts

Lie down on your back with your knees bent and your hands by your side or resting on your hips. Let your back settle into its natural position – you should have a little pocket of air underneath your lower back. This is what we call ‘neutral spine’. Take a nice deep breath and as you exhale think about flattening your lower back into the mat and tilting your pelvis back. You may even think about sliding your tailbone up towards the backs of your knees. Inhale again to return to this neutral spine position and regain that pocket of air under your lower back. Repeat 8-10 times tilting your pelvis back and forth to encourage mobility through your lower back. 

Pelvic Tilts
Bridging

Lie down on your back with your knees bent and your hands by your side or resting on your hips. Inhale to prepare, and as you exhale, tilt your pelvis back like we did in exercise 1. From here, slowly start to peel your spine off the mat one vertebrae at a time while gently squeezing your glutes, until you reach your bridge position with a straight line from your knees down to your shoulders. Inhale at the top, and then as you exhale begin to articulate back down, lowering one vertebrae at a time back onto the mat and finish with tilting the pelvis back to neutral. Repeat 8-10 times. 

Bridging
Dead Bugs

Lie down on your back with your knees bent and your hands by your side or resting on your hips. Ensure that your knees are at right angles. As you inhale, gently float your left leg up into ‘tabletop’ position – knee is directly above the hip and your shin is parallel to the ceiling. Exhale to lower the leg back down with control. Inhale and repeat on the other side. Think of hinging at the hip as you lift and lower each leg and maintain the right angle in the knee. Repeat 10-12 times on each side. 

Dead Bugs
Rolldowns

Sit on the mat with your legs straight and your spine tall. Float your hands out in front of you as if you are reaching for your toes. Inhale to prepare, and as you exhale tuck your chin into your chest and scoop through your tummy to create a C shape curve through your spine. Slowly start to roll down towards the mat placing your lower back, mid back, upper back, shoulders and head until you finish lying down with your hands floating up to the ceiling. Inhale at the bottom, and then as you exhale we will peel back up into sitting position – tuck your chin into your chest, lift through your chest and use your abdominal muscles to slowly peel your spine back off the mat reaching long for your toes. Once your shoulders are above your hips, sit up tall and draw your shoulders back. Try for 6-8 repetitions of this exercise. 

Rolldowns
Back Extension

Lie down on your front with your forehead resting on the mat and your hands by your side with your palms facing towards the ceiling. Gently press your pubic bone into the mat and draw your belly button away from the mat to encourage a neutral spine position. Inhale to prepare, and as you exhale lift your chest away from the mat, squeezing your shoulder blades together and reach long for your feet bringing your spine into extension. Inhale at the top, and exhale to slowly lower back down into the starting position. Repeat 6-8 times.

Back Extension

By Yelena Hallett.