At least 85% of us will experience lower back pain at some point in our lives. Lower back pain is not only painful, but it can cost us money, time and energy we don’t have to waste.
So what can one do to prevent being just another statistic? We can BE PROACTIVE. Do something that has been proven to help prevent and treat lower back pain: EXERCISE. Exercise is well researched to aid in recovery from lower back pain and can prevent lower back pain.
So the best exercise approach would be to strengthen our core muscle. Pilates exercises are great for strengthening our core. Research has shown that Pilates-based exercises are very effective in treating chronic, unresolved lower back pain (3) In a study in 2014 Wells et al concluded that: Pilates strengthening exercise offers greater improvements in pain for people suffering with chronic lower back pain and functional ability compared to usual care and physical activity in the short term (1)
So, the first 2 core exercises for lower back pain one can start to do are:
Abdominal setting with Pelvic tilts– to strengthen the pelvic floor and transversus abdominis muscles
Lie on your back with the knees bent and the feet flat on the floor.
- Engage your lower abdominals (transverses abdominis) by engaging your pelvic floor muscles. To engage your pelvic floor muscles pull up your pelvic floor muscles. i.e. don’t pass wind and water. You should feel your lower tummy drawing downwards towards your spine as you do this. You have now engaged your deep core muscles.
- Breathe normally and DO NOT hold your breath.
- Hold for 10 seconds and repeat 10 times.
This is called ‘setting’ and is encouraged in most Pilates exercises.
- Now add a pelvic tilt, i.e. flatten your lower back into the ground whilst you are setting your deep core muscles, then release and return to a neutral spine (i.e. a slight hollow in the lower back). Repeat 10 times
Bridging– to strengthen the multifidi and gluteal muscles
Lie on your back, with the knees bent and the feet flat on the floor.
Set the lower abdominals as explained above
Tilt your pelvis so that your lower back is on the floor, tighten your buttock muscles and set your lower abdominals by not passing wind or water.
- Then lift your hips off the floor.
- Keep your pelvis still. If your hamstrings cramp then you need to tilt your pelvis a bit more or start with your heels closer towards your buttocks.
- Repeat 10 times.
Please always seek medical advice before starting a new exercise regime.
- The effectiveness of pilates exercise in people with chronic low back pain: a systematic review. Wells etal, PLoS One. 2014 Jul 1;9(7):e100402.
- Inefficient Muscular Stabilization of the Lumbar Spine Associated With Low Back Pain: A Motor Control Evaluation of Transversus Abdominis Hodges and Richardson, Spine:15 November 1996 – Volume 21 – Issue 22 – p 2640–2650
- Pilates-Based Therapeutic Exercise: Effect on Subjects With Nonspecific Chronic Low Back Pain and Functional Disability: A Randomized Controlled Trial Rydeard et al, J Orthop Sports Phys Ther 2006;36(7):472–484.