Pilates for Low Back Pain

Does Pilates Based Physical Therapy Help Reduce Low Back Pain? 

Pilates is a form of exercise that shares many similarities with physical therapy. Pilates is based on several principles of movement including: breath, axial elongation and core control, spine articulation, organization of the head/neck/shoulders, alignment and weight bearing of the extremities, and movement integration. Utilizing Pilates to improve these principles of movement has been shown to aid in the rehabilitation process. Research shows that Pilates based physical therapy is an effective method of treatment for both chronic low back pain and recurring low back pain. 

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In a study that compared the efficacy of an active approach (Pilates) versus a passive approach (massage) for treating low back pain, researchers found that the Pilates group showed more improvement in outcome measures than the massage group. While both groups showed improvement, the Pilates group improved to a higher degree. In addition, this group also increased on measurements including back extensor strength and abdominal strength. This study suggests that an active Pilates based physical therapy approach is more effective than passive massage for treating low back pain. However, to better understand the clinical relationship between Pilates and low back pain more research needs to be done.

Pilates Based Physical Therapy for Low Back Pain

How can physical therapists help? Low back pain rehab is one of the most common conditions treated by physical therapists. In fact, statistics show that 80% of the population will experience low back pain at some point in their lives. At Symmetry Physical Therapy, we use Pilates as an effective form of treatment for individuals with low back pain. 

One of the main goals of Pilates is to recruit the deep stabilizing muscles of the core and spine. These muscles include: transverse abdominis, internal and external obliques, and multifidi muscles. Oftentimes, these muscles become weak and inefficient in patients with chronic and acute low back pain. When these muscles are functioning properly, they allow the trunk to remain stable while the extremities move. We call this “proximal stability for distal mobility.” This concept is extremely important for sport performance and injury prevention. In patients with low back pain however, the lack of activity from the deep stabilizing muscles makes it challenging and painful to disassociate the extremities without causing excess force through the spine. The Pilates Reformer is a wonderful apparatus that is used in advanced physical therapy clinics to provide additional training and stabilization of the trunk to protect against low back pain. 

Best Physical Therapy Exercises: Reformer For Low Back Pain


Reformer Pilates

Feet in Straps: 

Pilates For Low Back Pain


Pilates For Low Back Pain

Interested in doing this treatment for low back pain? Contact us here for more information! Also be sure to check out our Instagram page here for more helpful exercises to reduce low back pain and improve functional mobility. 

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