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Pilates, Core muscles and Back pain

Research has shown wasting of the deep spinal muscles after even one episode of low back pain. This may help to explain why back pain can become recurrent. However, specific retraining helps to restore the deep spinal muscle control and to reduce the recurrence of back pain.

The Australian Physiotherapy Pilates Institute took Pilates and linked it with the research on muscle control and back pain. They devised a form of Pilates for physiotherapists to use with people with spine problems, allowing them to access a very user friendly and safe method of exercise to help with their postural problems.

The Core Muscles

Pilates helps to retrain the deep muscles:

Multifidus is the deep spinal muscle, running between the vertebrae, that acts to stabilise the lower back. Multifidus works with the deep abdominal muscles, Transversus Abdominus, which are like corset of muscles wrapping around the trunk. These muscles work alongside the pelvic floor and diaphragm to form a cylinder of muscles to support the trunk, forming your core muscles.

Physiotherapists use their skills to teach you to isolate these core muscles. At this stage the work is gentle to prevent the more superficial back and spinal muscles from taking over: it is a myth that working harder gives greater benefits where back pain is concerned. Once the core muscles can work well in isolation and have built up some endurance then you start to work these muscles in conjunction with the rest of your body to restore normal movement and control.

Pilates works on several principles including alignment and control. One to one and small classes allows the instructor to check posture and ensure the correct muscles are being recruited to support the spine. If you strengthen the wrong abdominal muscle group you will simply become good at tensing that muscle and not achieve correct stability.

Pilates teaches good posture and a way of moving that can then be applied to your daily life or other forms of exercise, whether it be lifting, sitting at your desk or going to the gym.

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