You might have been told that Pilates is good for your back pain, but where do you start?! There is such a huge variation in style and technique that some Pilates classes might do you more harm than good! Beginners Pilates that is specific to back pain can be hard to find, especially one taught by an experienced physiotherapist.
I feel the need to share my recent experience of attending a Pilates class at my gym. The class was taught by a fitness instructor whom I am presuming has been on a ‘course’ to teach Pilates. There were clearly people in the class that were suffering back pain. I imagine they were attending as someone has told them ‘Pilates is good for your back’. I can tell you now that class was NOT Pilates! Perhaps might have been better advertised as legs, bums and tums! There was never any instruction to set your spine in neutral, never any instruction on the breathing technique, never any instruction on how to engage the core muscle, no consideration of different abilities, no variation on levels!I spent most of the class looking and worrying for those people that were clearly struggling and suffering with their backs! I worry how many people have attended a class like that and left feeling Pilates wasn’t right for them or even made their back pain worse?!
If you are new to Pilates and suffering with back pain, I urge you not to just turn up at a drop in class at your local gym. Start slowly with an appropriate beginners class and gradually progress as you feel able. The class should have a focus on slow controlled movement and progress over weeks to build in more advanced strengthening exercises. The class should be specifically for back pain. Our Pilates for back pain workouts take you through a steady progression to help build up your strength and control perfectly to ease your back pain.
Key Pilates Principles
Below are the key principles that you should be using in a beginners class:
1. Concentration, you should spend the whole session listening to your body and learning how your body is moving. Decide if it feels abnormal, weak, learn how to correct it. This will improve your body awareness which will have a positive impact on your back pain!
2. Control, this is one of the biggest principles! You need to learn how to control your movements, teach your stabilising muscles to work in the way they are designed to work. Maintaining a good position throughout the exercise.
3. Alignment, Spinal position and postural alignment is key to achieving a great technique. Poor alignment will encourage poor biomechanics so posture is everything in Pilates! How can you strengthen the postural muscles without good alignment? You can't!
4. Breathing, Your diaphragm makes up part of the core muscles, imagine it as the top of the cylinder. Our diaphragm assists the function of our deep abdominal and pelvic floor muscles. It is important to incorporate breathing technique with your Pilates for best results. The movement of the rib cage also assist in mobilising the rib and thoracic joints as well as having a calming effect on the body.
5. Precision, practice will see improvements. Really listening to the ques and watching to make sure your technique is precise.
6. Flow, Each movement should flow. You might find when you initially start that your movements are not very smooth, don't worry this will improve as you gain control. Always make sure you are working within your level of control.