Custom Performance NYC - NYC Physical Therapy Studio

Pilates For Core Strength

BY KATHLEEN LENINGER, PT & DPT.

As anyone who has experienced low back pain will tell you, it’s something you worry about even after it’s gone. Low back pain is a chronic battle that can flare up from the smallest of movements, an easy household task, or just from stress! When low back pain affects runners, it will sideline your training for weeks, even if the cause is unrelated to your running. So what can you do to prevent this annoying and inconvenient pain? By utilizing your core muscles!

First, let’s talk about how your core and low back are connected. All of the muscles in your body surround a bone proportionally, except for your back. There is more “stuff” in front of the bones in your lower back (lumbar spine), but they don’t have an additional stabilizing point. This means your core muscles (transverse abdominis, obliques, rectus abdominis and quadratus lumborum) are responsible for providing stability. When there isn’t enough stability to take the stress of the load, that stress ends up on the small lumbar bones, causing back pain.

A study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine looked at the effect of Pilates on patients with low back pain. 296 participants were broken up into four groups; Pilates once a week, Pilates twice a week, Pilates three times a week, or a low back pain pamphlet. After six weeks, all of the Pilates groups had a lower average pain score and disability score when compared to the non-Pilates group. The group who practiced Pilates twice a week was significantly better than the once a week group, but the three times a week group did not have significantly better results than the twice a week group.

Pilates differs from other core exercises because it focuses on the core muscles independently and as a group. This allows core stability to take the stress off of the low back. Pilates can feel complicated due to the reformers, but it doesn’t have to be. Mat classes are widely available around the city and on Pilates apps (we like Pilates anytime); all you need is a mat and your abdominals!

If you’re experiencing the dreaded low back pain, try adding some Pilates to your routine! Consider Pilates for lower back pain! Even one class can give you some relief.

Miyamoto, G. et.al. Different doses of Pilates-based exercise therapy for chronic low back pain: a randomized controlled trial with economic evaluation. British Journal of Sports Medicine. March 2018. 52:13.

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