Pilates works so well for back pain that you wonder why it’s not being prescribed as a holistic remedy for back pain by doctors.
Well, depending on who your doctor is, this is actually happening already – I often get people in my online and offline classes who have been referred to do Pilates for their back issues by their doctor or physiotherapist.
However, not every doctor is on board yet… so we still have work to do about driving awareness about why Pilates is THE BEST approach to tackle the main causes of back pain.
Let me quickly summarise for you why this is.
For this, you need to understand what causes back pain. In around 90% of cases, the causes are musculoskeletal, which means the pain has been caused my muscles, tendons, ligaments, bones or joints. These are all things we can manipulate, which is good news.
It’s always good to remember that your body is a very integrated entity – I always like to visualise it as if it’s a row of vertically placed dominos that all exist independently and are problem-free, until one of the dominos falls over… and before you know it, the ripple effect has taken the whole row of dominos down.
So, the actual cause or causes of your back pain may not actually be in your back – it may be caused by the first domino piece that fell over!
Keeping that in mind, let’s look at the most common known reasons that cause back pain:
1.Lack of core strength
I could write a whole blog post on what muscles make up your core, but for the sake of not turning this article into an essay (so tempting!), I’ll keep it to the basics. In simple terms, your core consists of your Transversus Abdominis (TA) muscle, which wraps itself around your tummy like a corset, and your Pelvic Floor, which by the way is also present in the male body. Both are designed to be strong and absorb the stress around the mid section. If these muscles are weak, the pressure goes into the lower back and this can easily cause back pain and discomfort.
2. Tightness around the hips and legs
The older we get, the tighter our muscles become – this is a fact of ageing. However, not only ageing does this to our body. It can also be from leading a very sedentary lifestyle as well as the complete opposite, being incredibly sporty… but not stretching enough. Basically, all roads lead to tightness and unfortunately, this has consequences for the rest of the body.
Let’s have a think about what a tight muscle actually is. A tight muscle means it’s been shortened. It has brought the origin of the muscle – where it starts – and it’s insertion point – there where it stops – closer together. If we take the example of your Gluteus Maximus, you will start to understand why this can affect your back.
Your Gluteus Maximus runs over your bum – it is attached (origin) to the Sacrum and Coccyx, which are both the lower bits of your spine, as well your Illium (the back hip bone). If that muscle is tight, it will literally pull the Sacrum, Coccyx and pelvis out of alignment. The result? Yep, you guessed it… it can indeed cause lower back pain.
3. Bad posture
Oh we all know that bad posture is not good for us, but is it not just so tempting to slouch in front of the telly or laptop? Even I do it!
Sporadic bad posture when you have an aligned body is not going to cause issues.
Bad posture becomes a problem when it’s there all the time – and then, after enough time has passed, your body position will change so that you cannot even come out of the bad posture anymore. It has become your new normal.
A good example that many people will be able to relate to is hunched shoulders. The shoulders should normally be relaxed, wide and open, but by hunching too much for too long, they become tight, rolled forward and tense. It can cause upper back pain, and it can even cause neck pain and migraines.
Unravelling bad posture takes a bit of time. Think about how long it took you to create the bad posture in the first place. It didn’t happen overnight, right? I would say that you can start changing your posture between 6 to 12 months of regular Pilates. Not only will your back, neck and shoulders thank you for it, you will also look more relaxed and healthier… good posture is a good anti-ageing remedy!
What is the best workout for back pain?
When you’re looking for the best solution to your back pain, don’t be tempted by quick fixes. It just doesn’t work. As I just explained, you will need to rebalance the body and this takes a bit of time and effort. A quick fix is just that – a temporary plaster over the wound… Why don’t we just tackle the real issues instead and stop the source of the pain?
Pilates works and some people will feel results even after the first session!
Try my popular 15 min Pilates workout for back pain on YouTube – just click on the video below – to experience how just 15 min of tailored Pilates can make a difference. If you have a moment, read the comments underneath the video in YouTube to see how other back pain sufferers have responded to doing this workout… it’s pretty mind-blowing!
If you suffer specifically from lower back pain, you may quite like this blog post too.
Good luck – although it’s not really luck you need, just a Pilates mat! – on your journey to becoming back pain free.