Pilates and Back Pain

Did you know that the lifetime prevalence of unspecified common back pain is estimated to be 60 to 70%? That means that in your lifetime, you have a very high chance of having back pain. Why is this? One factor that I believes contributes to back pain is our posture as a society. I feel as though most of us are hunched over a computer all day or staring down at our phones…sound familiar?  Take a moment to think about how many times you have bent over or slouched already today? I bet you lose track pretty quickly. 

Once poor posture initiates back pain, continuing to sit in a slouched position can worsen your symptoms over time. Sitting with a slouched posture for prolonged periods soon becomes a hard habit to break and can increase pressure on your intervertebral discs. Increased pressure overtime can change the shape of the disc and can lead to a bulging disc. A disc that bulges can pinch the nerves causing radiating symptoms into the buttock or down the leg.  In order to reverse the pressure on the discs, correct posture must be restored and your core needs to be strengthened to help hold the improved posture. So what do we do to create good postural habits? Simple, we need to get up and move! 

Tips on how to prevent and correct your posture:

  • Make sure that you work to keep your shoulder blades back and down. Even try timing yourself to hold positions like this for a brief chunk of time, and see if you can beat your personal best. The more you make this a habit, the better!
  • Grow from the crown of your head. That’s right, just like pulling a string straight up, or pushing the top of your head toward’s the ceiling.
  • Gently draw your belly button in to your spine. Whether you’re actually wearing skinny jeans and fighting the waistband, or trying to look slim, the practice of drawing your belly in is actually helping strengthen your back!
  • Try and keep palms facing forwards when you walk to open up your chest. It may feel funny at first, but tune it to how your body reacts to this slight adjustment!

Pilates is an excellent way to strengthen your postural muscles in order to form good postural habits. A strong core can help protect your spine. Pilates can focus on lengthening short muscles or strengthening weak muscles which  both contribute to poor posture. Physical therapy with the addition of Pilates can help you understand how to prevent the onset of low back pain, or it can can help reverse current symptoms you may be experiencing.

Dr. Erin Toy PT, DPT, CPT