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Pilates For Lower Back Pain

April 9, 2022

By Jenny Hwang PT, DPT

Pilates For Lower Back Pain

How Common Is Lower Back Pain?

Before you learn about Pilates for lower back pain, it is important that you understand how common lower back pain is. Research has shown almost 80% of adults experience lower back pain at some point in their lives, and it is one of the most common reasons for work absence. In 2016, low back and neck pain had the highest healthcare spending, with an estimated $134.5 billion in the US. Chronic low back pain is defined as back pain for over 12 weeks. Have you experienced lower back pain? Do you have long-standing lower back pain or have recurring lower back pain that makes you apprehensive about picking up your child or bending over to put on your shoes and socks?

 

What Can Be Done For Lower Back Pain?

Physical therapy is often the recommended treatment option for lower back pain. The Orthopedic Section of the American Physical Therapy Association recommended interventions for lower back pain including manual therapy, trunk coordination, strengthening and endurance exercises, centralization, directional preference exercises, and progressive endurance exercise and fitness activities. Studies have shown that patients who had core stability exercises in their intervention had a more significant decrease in pain and increased function than general exercises. Core stabilization exercises involve the body learning to co-contract to avoid shearing forces in the spine when you move. 

What Is Pilates?

Pilates is a comprehensive mind-body exercise that has a particular emphasis on strength, core stability, flexibility, muscle control, posture, and breathing which is why Pilates has become increasingly popular in the world of rehabilitation. Pilates for lower back pain relief has become increasingly popular in the past 20 years.

Pilates was developed in the early 1900s by Joseph H Pilates with the following six principles: 

  1. Centering- focus on activating core muscles which consist of transversus abdominis, diaphragm, abdominal oblique muscles, multifidus, and pelvic floor muscles throughout exercises. This should be your “powerhouse”.
  2. Concentration- giving every movement your full attention.
  3. Control- moving with intention and maintaining awareness of posture. 
  4. Precision- being on point with the quality of exercise technique.
  5. Breathing- carrying out rhythmic breathing throughout the exercise, which activates deep trunk muscles.
  6. Flow- smooth transitions between movements and consecutive exercises.

How Can Pilates Help Your Lower Back Pain?

These principles combined with just the right amount of resistance force the engagement of deep stabilizers, which are essential to lumbopelvic stability and maintaining normal spinal curvatures. The form is crucial, and that is why you need someone to guide you to ingrain these principles into your everyday movement and workouts. Once you master these concepts of motor control and body awareness, you are equipped to do your daily chores and activities safely.

Whether you have an injury, Pilates is a low-load exercise that allows you to restore or maintain your deep core strength. The goal is to improve your lumbopelvic stability, which is the key to preventing and staying away from lower back pain. Learning to activate and engage your inner muscles is vital for any injury to increase your stability. Being strong is not just about how heavy you lift. 

Pilates-based physical therapy can help you incorporate the whole body through awareness and activation. It involves the brain and retrains neural pathways on which muscles should be recruited and in what order.  These life-long skills are critical to overcoming pain and dysfunction and allow you to be Active For Life.

Pilates lower back pain

Where To Begin For Lower Back Pain Relief?

If you want to find a long-term solution to your low back pain or learn how to Move Better, Feel Better, Live Better contact us today to be seen in less than 48 hours at one of our Evolve Physical Therapy clinics in Sherwood, OR, and Bethany, OR! Check out what injuries we commonly treat and what to expect during an appointment.  

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Jenny Hwang earned her Doctorate of Physical Therapy from New York University and is Balanced Body Pilates Instructor trained. She uses many concepts of Pilates for rehabilitation and a combination of manual therapy and therapeutic exercises to help patients achieve their personal goals and move better. She is a strong believer in treating the body as a whole and assisting people to reach their full potential, no matter what fitness level or stage of life.

References:

  1. Vos T, Flaxman AD, Naghavi M, et al. Years lived with disability (YLDs) for 1160 sequelae of 289 diseases and injuries 1990-2010: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2010. Lancet (London, England). 2012;380(9859):2163-2196.
  2. Hoy D, March L, Brooks P, et al. The global burden of low back pain: estimates from the Global Burden of Disease 2010 study. Annals of the rheumatic diseases. 2014;73(6):968-974.
  3. Dieleman JL, Cao J, Chapin A, Chen C, Li Z, Liu A, Horst C, Kaldjian A, Matyasz T, Scott KW, Bui AL, Campbell M, Duber HC, Dunn AC, Flaxman AD, Fitzmaurice C, Naghavi M, Sadat N, Shieh P, Squires E, Yeung K, Murray CJL. US Health Care Spending by Payer and Health Condition, 1996-2016. JAMA. 2020 Mar 3;323(9):863-884. doi: 10.1001/jama.2020.0734. PMID: 32125402; PMCID: PMC7054840.
  4. Andersson GB. Epidemiological features of chronic low-back pain. Lancet (London, England). 1999;354(9178):581-585.
  5. Delitto A, George SZ, Van Dillen L, et al. Low Back Pain: Clinical Practice Guidelines Linked to the International Classification of Functioning, Disability, and Health from the Orthopaedic Section of the American Physical Therapy Association. The Journal of orthopaedic and sports physical therapy. 2012;42(4):A1-57.
  6. Coulombe BJ, Games KE, Neil ER, Eberman LE. Core Stability Exercise Versus General Exercise for Chronic Low Back Pain. Journal of athletic training. 2017;52(1):71-72.
  7. Wang XQ, Zheng JJ, Yu ZW, et al. A meta-analysis of core stability exercise versus general exercise for chronic low back pain. PloS one. 2012;7(12):e52082.
  8. Wells C, Kolt GS, Bialocerkowski A. Defining Pilates exercise: a systematic review. Complementary therapies in medicine. 2012;20(4):253-262.
  9. Pereira ILR, Queiroz B, Loss J, Amorim C, Sacco ICN. Trunk Muscle EMG During Intermediate Pilates Mat Exercises in Beginner Healthy and Chronic Low Back Pain Individuals. Journal of manipulative and physiological therapeutics. 2017;40(5):350-357.
  10. Eliks M, Zgorzalewicz-Stachowiak M, Zeńczak-Praga KApplication of Pilates-based exercises in the treatment of chronic non-specific low back pain: state of the artPostgraduate Medical Journal 2019;95:41-45.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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