Pilates Back Pain

Pilates Back Pain

Article by Nadine Stewart

What is Pilates?

Pilates refers to a form of exercise that focuses on the activation of your deep core muscles and incorporates them into safely controlling a variety of movements.

There are a number of approaches to pilates that vary in difficulty and skill level, equipment and the aim of the exercises.

Clinical pilates, as taught at some of our PhysioWorks clinics in Brisbane, is specifically designed for people with back pain and movement dysfunction! Clinical pilates includes a variety of different exercises that train your core muscles to switch on during dynamic movements of your body.

Why is Pilates Important for You?

Your core muscles are very important in providing stability at each segment of the spine during movement. Research shows that the core muscles tend to “switch off” or become underactive in people with back pain. This means that although the initial episode of back pain may settle, 80% of people with an acute back pain incident will develop recurring back pain within one year of the initial injury.

Core stability retraining is a vital part of the rehabilitation process, and will markedly reduce your risk of reinjury. It is important that these muscles not only learn to switch on when you are not moving but also during day to day activities such as rolling over in bed, bending over, reaching and sitting at a desk for prolonged periods of time.

Pilates has been proven to effectively re-train all of your core muscles through a range of different movements, and can be altered to cater for your individual needs!

Who is Suited to Pilates?


Sadly, pilates isn’t for everyone! Overaggressive pilates exercise programs that are too difficult for your body can cause pain and injury. At PhysioWorks, we are regularly treating patients who have increased their back pain at poorly run or supervised pilates classes.

Pilates, Yoga, gym strengthening and other forms of exercise can place high demands on your core stability system. If the core muscle recruitment order is abnormal, your chance of injury increases in proportion with the exercise difficulty.

Remember, if you build a tower on a poor foundation it will eventually topple. The same goes for your core stability muscles.

Look what happened to the Leaning Tower of Pisa… it’s obviously got lousy core stability!

However, recruiting the deeper core muscles prior to your superficial layers just like adding floors to a sturdy skyscraper and your back will be strong and pain-free forever.

What’s the Link Between Pilates and Core Stability?

The whole ‘core stability’ phenomenon started back in the 1920’s with a chap named Joseph Pilates, who’s exercise regimes have become quite trendy in the last ten years.

Pilates talked about developing a ‘girdle of strength’ by learning to recruit the deep-trunk muscles. Even without complete knowledge of anatomy and the benefits of the latest muscle activity research, he was aware of the importance of these deep muscles and their supportive effects.

Put simply, core stability training specifically targets the smaller and deeper back and stomach muscles. Once recruited, these muscles control the position of the spine during dynamic movements of your body.

Pilates Back Pain

Pilates Neck Pain

Pilates Shoulder Pain

Physio Works...