Back Pain? Pilates Makes it Better!

by | May 30, 2024 | Articles

For some of us back pain is a feature of our daily life. It was for me! I injured my back working as a Physiotherapist in the days when lifting patients was the normal operating procedure. I suffered back pain for many years and tried lots of different things to help myself. It all changed when I discovered Pilates.

80% of People will experience Back Pain

Back pain is the single largest cause of disability in the UK with around ⅓ of the population affected each year. 1 in 15 people with back pain will consult their GP.

Back pain is complex and multifactorial however there is evidence that the deep stabilising muscles of the lumbar spine and pelvis don’t work as well when we are in pain. (1) In addition, people who have pain, particularly over a long time, will subtly change how they move. They adopt less-than-ideal movement habits totally without knowing it! Often it is these movement ‘glitches’ that perpetuate weakness in some areas and overload muscles and ligaments in others, resulting in ongoing pain and dysfunction.

Treatment for Back Pain

It is now accepted that the first line of treatment for the management of Low back pain and sciatica is a specific exercise programme including mind body approaches such as Pilates. (2) Strengthening the core muscles with targeted Pilates exercises can reduce pain and support a return to function. According to studies that compared the effects of Pilates and minimal intervention in nonspecific Chronic Low Back Pain patients, 6–12 weeks of Pilates training is better than minimal intervention in reducing pain in the short term. (3)

I was a keen runner, cyclist and gym goer addicted to cardio and always felt that activities like Yoga and Pilates were ‘too easy’ and ‘not up my street’. How wrong I was!

What is Clinical Pilates?

7" Soft Pilates Ball for sale uk france italy switzerland europe belgium netherlands canada united statesPilates is a physical fitness programme consisting of a unique series of stretching and strengthening exercises. It was originally developed by Joseph Pilates around 100 years ago. Read more about Pilates here.

Clinical Pilates consists of modified Pilates exercises designed to target the movement glitches, weakness and dysfunction that are inevitable if we are in Pain for prolonged periods.

I attended my first Clinical Pilates training course in 2005 specifically for Physiotherapists to learn to teach Clinical Pilates so that I could use the techniques to help my patients. Little did I know how much it would help me!


Pilates helped me!

I first experienced back pain in the early 90s lifting a patient when I was a young Physiotherapist. My pain never really went away and when I attended my first Clinical Pilates course in 2005 it was interfering with my ability to function. My children were young and lifting my heavy toddler repeatedly in and out of his car seat was a real pain (excuse the pun).

Miraculously I discovered that after only 1 weekend, the Pilates exercises had eased my back pain! I was hooked! I continued my training and I have been practising and teaching Pilates for 18 years to thousands of happy customers.

Pilates with a Physiotherapist

If you have a recent injury a group programme may not be suitable for you. However, as an experienced Physiotherapist, I have the training and expertise to help people in pain. Modified Pilates exercises will strengthen core muscles, improve flexibility and body alignment and really can offer symptom relief to people who have non-specific low back pain.

Chat online with me to discover the best option for you.

Make Movement a habit for life

I have heard so many times from my clients that doing Modified Pilates exercises even just once each week makes a huge difference to how they feel and that they can get on with life doing all the things they enjoy. The problems arise when we get lulled into thinking that we can take a break from our exercise routines especially when our busy lives get in the way. Initially, you will feel fine, but gradually over time, the chances are that your aches and pains will return.

In my experience, it is only with ongoing regular practice that we maintain and improve our overall physical condition and keep the aches and pains at bay.

Perhaps I can Help

I have a wealth of professional experience helping people to succeed in achieving their goals. My life’s purpose is to share my knowledge and passion for ‘movement as medicine’. Book a chat to discover how I can help you.

Book your Movement Consultation

Introduction to the Pilates Fundamentals with Phillipa

Why not check out Pilates for yourself. Join me as I introduce the Pilates Fundamentals of breath, alignment and core activation. The Pilates Basics are really important to grasp before. Learn how to position the pelvis, ribcage, shoulder girdle, head and neck. Switch on the deep core muscles with only a thought! Take care and work in a way that suits your own body.


Want to know more about Chronic Pain?

Check out this Precizion Podcast episode where I chat with Lou Morgan an Advanced Nurse Practitioner. In her current role, Lou guides people who have chronic pain to manage symptoms and live life to the fullest. We shed some light on the workings of the brain and discuss lifestyle measures, including Pilates and Yoga, which can improve people’s experience of pain.


Listen to our chat on Spotify

Author: Phillipa Butler MSc Chartered Physiotherapist

Pilates for Menopause for Massage Therapists and Manual Therapists  - NAT Diploma Course with Precizion 10 CEUs

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Interested to learn Pilates or Yoga?

Join Precizion for regular online Pilates and Yoga classes.  All led by Phillipa Butler, a Chartered Physiotherapist, Clinical Pilates and Women’s Health Expert. One-on-one consultations also available.

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