It’s pretty common– low back pain is the leading cause of disability worldwide–and the number of people with low back pain has doubled in the last 25 years. Whether it’s our jobs (more sitting) or our lack of time (no time to strengthen the muscles that keep that pain away), low back pain is a growing problem for so many of us.
The truth is, I experience it too! I know, I know, the Pilates teacher who has built a career on making people stronger, longer, and more mobile is a back pain statistic.
These days, I feel it most when I spend too long working at the computer, or my shoes are too high, or I’ve done too much yard work.
The only thing that makes it feel better is more Pilates. A bit of rest doesn’t go astray either. But when it comes to movement, Pilates literally keeps me together. I usually need to do LESS running and LESS HIIT workouts when it gets really bad (other physical pursuits I enjoy), but never less Pilates. Sure, Pilates at the top of its game can have you swinging from straps and bars and all sorts of fancy things, but at its foundation, Pilates is a series of simple principles that build the skills necessary to support your spine.
How does it do this?
- Pilates Improves Core Strength: The transverse abdominal muscles are deep abdominal muscles that play a critical role in supporting and stabilizing the pelvis and low back. Before you move your arms or legs, the TA activates. Think about this muscle as a corset around your lower spine and internal organs, supporting your pelvis and low back. Because it’s such a deep muscle, and not “flashy” like the 6-pack rectus abdominis muscle, it is often neglected (and thus weak) which can lead to back pain issues. Pilates strengthens this muscle, as well as the other major core muscles like the rectus abdominis, which improves your whole core strength. Strong core = less low back pain.
- Pilates Increases Muscle Flexibility: I know a Nurse Practitioner at one of the leading orthopedic hospitals in Dallas. She deals with a LOT of low back pain, and you know one of the first things they prescribe to most people? Hamstring stretches. Yep! Tight hamstrings, glutes, hip flexors, and other muscles surrounding the spine can cause misalignments. If a muscle is tight, it may pull on other structures causing pain. Pilates partially focuses on lengthening these muscles – ensuring you have the proper flexibility to prevent pain and injury from happening. All without surgery!
- Pilates Supports Good Posture: The image is clear- we’re sitting hunched over our computers for 8 hours at work, or folded into ourselves on the soft couch at home scrolling through our phones. Both of these aren’t great for our posture: they create imbalances and weaken the muscles we use for GOOD posture. Pilates workouts increase your postural awareness. It focuses on the correct alignment of the spine and pelvis. A good posture is one in which the body experiences the least amount of stress. In other words, it is the natural alignment of your bones, ligaments, muscles, and other tissues. Many exercises in Pilates narrow in on keeping the spine in this neutral position. In turn, you’re less likely to develop back problems.
Whatever kind of back pain/discomfort you are experiencing, let me teach you the Pilates basics and foundational movements to nurture your spine back to a place where you feel stronger, more mobile, and most importantly, more pain free in the future. Book your class here today!