Many people experience back pain because they have bad posture. This puts excess strain on the spine and can cause back pain. Without exercise, they may sit at a desk for eight hours (and most likely hunched over).
Over time, they lose their postural muscle strength and end up not being able to sit up straight even if they wanted to. As the years at the same desk job wear on, posture and back pain becomes increasingly worse.
But Pilates can help by 1) preventing bad posture in the first place and 2) helping you gain back strength in the muscles that support your back. How do you know which exercises will help your back and which ones will hurt? Do the exercise and see how your back reacts.
For instance, if doing exercises like Spine Stretch Forward – a flexion exercise that causes you to round your spine forward – hurt, try doing exercises that do the opposite – arch your back backwards.
Do something like the Rising Swan and see how your back reacts. Many times movement that work your back in the opposite direction of the pain feel good and over time will strengthen the postural muscles thus alleviating your back pain.
Because Pilates stresses the importance of spine neutral alignment, and uses simple exercises that support deep postural muscle improvement and balance, it can be a great program if your back pain is caused by a muscle imbalance – one muscle stronger or weaker than the opposing muscle.
Of course, before starting a Pilates program, be sure to check with your doctor to see if s/he recommends doing Pilates, especially if you have an injured or weak back. If cleared to exercise, also be sure to ask what kind of moves would be best to help build up the muscles in your back and prevent a recurring injury.
If done correctly and with common sense, a Pilates program can benefit your posture and relieve back pain. Always start out slow, do movements correctly and listen to your body. It will tell you if what you are doing hurts or feels good.