Is Pilates good for back pain?

We always hear that Pilates is good for back pain, so let's have a look at some recent evidence and see if it is helpful!



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In clinical practice, I do find that Pilates and Yoga based exercise can be really useful, especially in people with new back pain. It helps a lot with awareness of the body, and helping people to get moving again. Physio-led Pilates can be particularly helpful in this area, where some people might want some specific advice for getting back into other types of activity, such as running.


Physio-led Pilates can also be useful for those with long term pain or conditions such as hypermobility. The focus on control, proprioception and mindfulness can be really helpful in such cases.


This systematic review from 2015 has shown that Pilates is just as effective as other forms of exercise in managing long term lower back pain. It recommends that people with lower back pain should be doing Pilates 2-3 times a week to get the most benefits from a programme. It also recommends that these sessions last at least an hour.


Another review from 2015 also came to the conclusion that Pilates can be a good option for those with persistent lower back pain. However, it does consider that there has been no longer term follow up from these studies.


More recent research from 2020 has shown that there is low quality evidence saying that Pilates, stabilisation/motor control, aerobic and resistance training are probably the more effective treatments for managing lower back pain in the long term. It also suggest these types of training may be better than having 'hands-on' treatment.


So after that brief review of the research, we can probably summarize that Pilates can be really useful for people with long term back pain. However, I would always suggest that you combine it with other forms of activity (e.g. walking, cycling, other weight training) and always make sure that you enjoy it!


If you are having back pain at the moment and want to discuss it further to see if Pilates would be right for you, why don't you get in contact with me to have a chat?


Take care,

Aisling








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