Good and Bad Pilates Exercises for Low Back Pain

Which ones are Good and Bad Pilates Exercises for Low Back Pain?
Although exercise has been proven to be beneficial for low back pain and Pilates exercise is widely advocated, not all Pilates exercises are recommended for Low back pain. There are actually good and Bad Pilates Exercises for Low Back Pain, and if you are not careful, you may aggravate your problem. Find out which ones…

Within 15 minutes of exercising, any mild discomfort should disappear once your muscles start to warm up and get stronger. If pain lasts more than 15 minutes, you should discontinue exercising and contact your osteopath, GP or back specialist. If you already have a diagnosis and are under the care of a professional, stick to that.
Aim to strengthen your deep abdominal stabilising muscles first (Transversus abdominis/internal obliques)
Here are a few tips to consider
Avoid exercises that cause too much compression like sit ups. If your core musculature is weak and your spine does not have the flexibility, you are likely to be using your hip flexors mostly during a sit-up. Also, too much compression on your spine might damage your spinal discs, especially if you don’t have a spinal injury and your spinal discs are compromised.

Good and Bad Pilates Exercises for Low Back Pain










Slow controlled crunches with a hold at the top. Work on the lowering phase (Ab Prep). 1 count to lift, 1 count to stay up and down in 4 counts! This exercise seems very simple but performing it correctly is actually very difficult.
Make sure that your lumbar spine remains in a neutral alignment. This means that you do have a natural curvature in your lower back (typically you will have a slight space under your lower vertebrae), and you are bending your mid and upper back. The lift should be from your abdominal muscles, not your arms.
To do this you should initiate with a slight head nod, to assure the neck is in the right alignment with the upper back when you lift. This will prevent hyper flexion or hyper extension of your cervical spine (neck).

Good and Bad Pilates Exercises for Low Back Pain
Slow Controlled crunches (Ab Prep)

Neutral lumbar spine is the key to an ab prep (crunch). Avoid tucking your pelvis. Maintain a slight natural curvature on your lower back as you lift your head and shoulders away from the floor. This keeps your rectus abdomens in a more lengthened position and you target your abdominal obliques. Avoid pulling your neck with your arms. WORK on the down phase of the exercise.

Do forward toe touches standing. If you are experiencing low back pain, forward bending could compromise your lumbar discs and ligaments and aggravate your pain. Especially if you have a  strain on the disc, a tear or bulging and you haven’t had a proper diagnosis. Bending forwards unsupported to the end ranges greatly increases the pressure on the lumbar discs and over stretches your ligaments. Especially if you have a recent injury, weakness and are doing these exercises unsupported.

Good and Bad Pilates Exercises for Low Back Pain
Forward Bending Toe Touches

Forward bendings may put too much compression on your lumbar discs and ligaments

Upper back extensions. These should be using your upper back musculature, and not your arms or hands. Avoid over extending your neck. Your neck  (cervical spine) should continue the curvature of your upper back (thoracic spine). Again, control the descent. Mobilising your mid and upper back, and improving your posture is thought to reduce the stresses on your lower back, and thus, improving lower back pain.

Good and Bad Pilates Exercises for Low Back Pain
Upper Back Extensions








Controlled rotations to mobilise your upper back> Do this while engaging your core muscles to rotate you in a controlled manner. Try initiating the movement from the base of your spine, and draw in your lower abdominal muscles. Together with a forced exhalation and a gentle pelvic floor contraction, you will strengthen your deep abdominals while articulating your upper segments.
Keep true to your upright posture, while rotating, head over shoulders at all times.
If there is any discomfort, discontinue the exercise.

Good and Bad Pilates Exercises for Low Back Pain
Controlled Slow Spinal Rotations










Understanding which ones are Good and Bad Pilates Exercises for Low Back Pain can make a difference to preventing more damage to your back. Book a 50%OFF first group class or personal training session today!

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Blog written by Carlo Yanez
Registered Osteopath B.A.(Hons.), B.Ost.(Hons)
Fully certified STOTT PILATES® Instructor

Good and Bad Pilates Exercises for Low Back Pain
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