Exercise therapy is a common approach to help non-specific low back pain, persistent tightness or an aching back. Pilates, which focuses on isometric movement, is a great method to aid in strengthening and stabilizing the spine. The muscles that support the spine work all day and need to be in good shape to help overcome, and avoid, further back pain.
Here are just a few of the Firehaus Pilates exercises that assist clients to both understand their body mechanics and also help ease back pain by improving strength, flexibility, and posture.
For all aspects of Pilates exercise, participants are encouraged to practice a neutral spine position. This powerful principle helps improve posture and increase mindfulness on how we move and use both our back and core muscles.
A simple movement, a neutral spine is a foundation for all Pilates exercise. At Firehaus Pilates, clients lie on their back on a firm mat. With knees bent and feet flat on the floor, the spine should not touch the mat at the neck or lower back. These areas are natural curves that help absorb shock when standing, running, or even walking.
However, it is sometimes difficult to find this natural, neutral position. Our instructors are available to help clients understand how to create a neutral spine and what this neutral spine should feel like. Once aware of this correct posture, Pilates offers stability exercises to maintain and reinforce these natural curves. This awareness helps encourage maintaining proper posture throughout the day.
Once understanding what a neutral spine feels like, Firehaus Pilates instructors help guide clients to begin exercising the deep, core muscles that help to strengthen the body. The exercise starts by lying in the neutral spine position with relaxed back muscles; the knees bend and feet are kept flat on the floor.
Breathe out and gently lift the internal pelvic floor muscles. This action is the same that is done when you need to pee but have to make yourself stop! Practice this several times. Pulling the navel toward the spine, imagine imprinting the lower back onto the floor. Breathe in, relax the muscles, and return to the neutral spine position. Although it is a subtle movement, our instructors show clients just how powerful it can be!
To further strengthen abdominal muscles to help support the back, Firehaus Pilates instructors have clients then lay on their back in a neutral spine position. With knees bent, feet flat on the floor hands are placed behind the head as a support. Remember to engage pelvic floor and core muscles, just like in the Pelvic Tilt exercise.
Breathe out and carefully lift the chest and head while keeping the stomach flat and the pelvis and hips still and engaged to the ground. Don’t lift with the neck or pull up with your hands.
Think about the name of this exercise, Chest Lift, and use the upper back, chest, and core to raise the upper body. Breathe in and gently lowering the chest and head down onto the mat.
Many Pilates exercises can help alleviate back pain, but all begin with these basic movements that facilitate identifying and concentrating on the spine and core. As clients achieve this improved focus and increase strength, Firehaus Pilates instructors will guide other exercises and sequences to progress improvement in flexibility, posture, and stability.
Pilates for back pain may not be for everyone, especially those suffering from serious or chronic pain. Talk to your physician or stop by Firehaus Pilates for a consultation with one of our instructors. Consistent Pilates not only helps to alleviate back discomfort, it also strengthens and straightens your body to help you avoid back pain in the future!