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How can Pilates help my Low Back Pain

07 Apr 2017

The prevalence of Non-specific low back pain is very high, effecting most of the population at one or more points in their lives.

Non-specific low back pain causes great disability and the costs, associated with the repercussions of this, are high (Waddell, 2004; Dagenais, Caro & Haldeman, 2008). Pilates can help people with non-specific lower back pain as it involves engaging and strengthening the deep stabilizing musculature (transversus abdominus and multifidus (Rackwitz, de Bie, Limm, von Garnier, Ewert & Stucki, 2006)), in the body which are shown to “switch off” or stop “firing” when a person has low back pain (Hodges & Richardson, 1996).

When these stabilising muscles “switch off” more superficial muscles take over which cause us to compensate and worsen the movement patters and mechanics of the body. This, in turn, can causes more pain and debilitation of the lower back and other areas (Hodges & Richardson, 1996).

Pilates aims to change these improper movement patterns and biomechanical movement errors that people begin to use. Pilates goal is to start activating and strengthening the stabilising musculature that has stopped working. This can help improve posture, improve movement efficiency, decrease pain levels and restore flexibility.

Vianna Ross - Physiotherapist and Pilates Instructor, Central Physio & Health

MPhysio, B.A PhEd.


Dagenais, S., Caro, J., & Haldeman, S. (2008). A systematic review of low back pain cost of illness studies in the United States and internationally. The spine journal, 8(1), 8-20. Exercise therapy is highly recommended for lower back pain sufferers.

Hodges, P. W., & Richardson, C. A. (1996). Inefficient muscular stabilization of the lumbar spine associated with low back pain: a motor control evaluation of transversus abdominis. Spine, 21(22), 2640-2650.

Rackwitz, B., de Bie, R., Limm, H., von Garnier, K., Ewert, T., & Stucki, G. (2006). Segmental stabilizing exercises and low back pain. What is the evidence? A systematic review of randomized controlled trials. Clinical rehabilitation, 20(7), 553-567.

Waddell, G. (2004). The back pain revolution. Elsevier Health Sciences.