The low-down on lowering the risk!

Pilates is considered to be the best exercise for improving back pain and posture.

Pilates improves muscle strength and plays a fundamental role in protecting the back by working on the deep abdominal muscles. It is recommended because we teach individuals how to target their core muscles: one of the main exercises involves activating the abdominals by drawing the navel to the spine and contracting the pelvic floor muscle.

One learns to focus on engaging the Transversus Abdominus (the muscle that runs between the ribs and the pelvis), the Multifidus (next to the spine in the lower back) and the pelvic floor muscles which strengthen the muscles from within — giving the back an internal brace, which can be helpful for degenerate disc disease or rehabilitation from any back surgery.

However, when it isn’t tailored to an individual or taught correctly according to the patient’s back diagnosis, problems can occur.

We see multiple clients every week suffering from back pain caused by injury elsewhere. Upon arriving they seek to relieve themselves of the pain through exercise.

This works IF there is no underlying issue:

If exercises are carried out incorrectly or without knowledge of condition before proceeding they can weaken the back and cause existing conditions to deteriorate.


Successful treatment and long term relief starts with YOU!

  1. Understand the cause of your suffering, before committing to exercise and an instructor hoping to help you.
  2. Investigate the reason for your back pain and seek a diagnosis if you have suffered an injury or experience pro-longed pain.
  3. be Forthcoming if you have a pre-existing condition and let your instructor know your history.

Ask some basic questions before signing up:

  1. Check if your teacher has an appropriate qualification, in South Africa you can check
  2. Make sure you are offered an initial one-on-one assessment where you can go through your medical history and your instructor can start teaching you the fundamental basics of Pilates.
  3. Tell your Instructor everything; even that niggle you get in your lower spine once in a while can be relevant and alter the regime devised for you.
  4. Check whether you will be carrying out exercises tailored to you.

Remember: Pilates is not a “no pain, no gain” exercise regimen

  1. If you feel any pain during a class, let the instructor know immediately.
  2. If you feel a twinge in your back while doing something, stop and tell your instructor.
  3. Make sure you join a small class. Classes of more than 10 people won’t help.

Pilates is not a gym class but its popularity means it’s often misunderstood as merely an hour of sweating or a method of weight loss which isn’t necessarily good for those with back problems. Pilates incorporates exercises that can be challenging — particularly if you have an existing back problem. When taught and practiced properly, Pilates teaches awareness of movement habits that may stress the spine and helps the patient change these habits to those that preserve neutral alignment.

Written by Steph