Oonagh McDevitt March 2019

Pilates can play a role in strengthening the muscles and maintaining the flexibility of the joints of the back. 

Your back, from the base of your skull to the top of your glutes, is comprised of bones, muscles, ligaments, tendons, and interconnecting nerves.

A healthy back engages all of these to allow bending and stretching.

How does Pilates help your back?

Pilates strengthens and balances your muscles to enable you to maintain good posture of your spine.

The worse your posture is, the more likely you are to have wear and tear and pain in your back.

This is due to the impact of abnormal levels of different types of stresses on your spine that pull your back out of alignment (i.e. compression, torque, shear and tension).

Beyond your Pilates classes

Be mindful of your body positioning.

Improve your back with lifestyle changes such as being active, resting and relaxing.

Avoid exercises that push the spine into extremes of flexion (bending forward or sideways) or extension (bending backward).

Consult your GP/consultant if experiencing pain or discomfort in your back.

In particular, avoid exercises that combine flexion with side bending or twisting the spine - for example lifting a heavy weight such as a child, bag of shopping, saucepan, and then turning round the spine to place the object down - this is because these moves excessively stress the intervertebral discs and could cause them to tear.

 You can still lift the heavy object – however practice:

  • bracing your core to protect your spine before and during any lifting movement
  • use a huge breath out as you lift (you are stronger as you breathe out)
  • try and have the object as close to you as you can so you are not leaning forward putting extra pressure on your shoulders and back
  • aim not to twist or turn with your spine as you are holding the object
  • use your feet to do the turning.