Pilates for Back Pain

Pilates has been used as a method of combating back pain for many years. Read the blog below for more details on the how and the why.

Take back pain away and schedule Pilates in today

Low Back Pain

Have you ever experienced an episode of low back pain?

It can be an anxious and frustrating time in your life, leaving you unsure of who or what to turn to in order to get relief .

Firstly you’re NOT ALONE. It is more common than you may think. 1 in 10 people will experience it in their lifetime accounting for 40% of absences from work within the UK (NHS 2014; The British Pain Society 2018).

When there is no anatomical or pathological reason for your back pain, this is known as Non-specific Low Back Pain (NSLBP). The incidence of NSLBP can be attributed to many factors such as; activity levels, obesity, smoking, stress and depression (Hasnbring, Rusu and Turk 2012).

So why choose Pilates? Let us look at the Pilates method and what it means.

What is Pilates?

Pilates was created by a man called Joesph Pilates in 1920. His method is based on Contrology, the act of movement with complete control. This includes a variety of exercises based around the combination of core stabilisation, flowing movement, mind and breath control (Lewitt, Mcpherson and Stevenson 2019; Phrompaet et al. 2011).

Pilates for Back Pain

Types of Pilates

There are two types of Pilates. Mat-based mainly uses body weight and gravity. Equipment-based, uses a reformer and multiple pieces of equipment. You usually see this in more advanced classes. Both of these methods work towards the same goal of strengthening multiple muscle groups by creating resistance (Gaskell, Williams and Preece 2019). The session is structured and focuses on numerous body areas. Each of the movements is tailored to suit your individual needs, so don’t be put off if you are new to it. A typical session will last from 45-60 minutes. Expect to feel the muscles working!

Reformer Pilates for Back Pain

How can Pilates help my back pain?

  • By reducing pain and increasing function.

Pilates achieves a reduction in pain and disability through the use of exercise. This theory includes the involvement of exercise induced endorphins, which are proven to reduce pain levels and boost your mood, giving a euphoric effect (Di Lorenzo 2011; Mikkelsen et al. 2017).

A study showed a decrease in pain after a 6 week pilates intervention by up to 3 points on the Visual Analogue Scale, meaning that if participants scored their pain a 6/10 at the start their pain was reduced to 3/10 (Da Luz Jr et al. 2014). Multiple other studies showed a decrease by at least 2 points on the visual analogue scale, and all showed an increase in function. This displays the effect Pilates can have on a participant's quality of life (Mostagi et al. 2014; Miyamoto et al. 2018; Cruz-Diaz et al 2018).

  • Reducing Kinesiophobia

Kinesiophobia is the fear of moving your body due to pain. This is extremely common with back pain, but it can actually exacerbate your symptoms (Ishak, Zahari and Justine 2017). Studies have shown that physiotherapy-led pilates can reduce kinesiophobia significantly, this may be due to the benefit of being guided through an exercise session by a professional, and realising your movement potential (Cruz- Diaz et al. 2018). Additionally exercise affects neurotransmitters in the brain such as dopamine and serotonin which can positively impact mood and behaviour (Jackson 2013)    

Do I need to be a certain level to start?

NO! Everyone is welcome, all exercises can be adapted to suit your individual needs.

So come get started when you are ready. We currently offer online classes here at Physioflexx and will be reintroducing our face-to-face classes early summer once restrictions lift. For all enquiries please contact us by filling out our enquiry form at

*NOTE: Please always seek professional help if you have symptoms of back pain. This blog is general advice only.*


NHS., 2014. Back pain leading cause of disability. Available at: [Accessed 18 Jan. 2020].

THE BRITISH PAIN SOCIETY.,2018 . British Pain Society Press release: Chronic pain costs the UK billions but research funding is inadequate. Available at: [Accessed 18 Jan. 2020].

LEWITT, M.S., MCPHERSON, L. AND STEVENSON, M., 2019. Development of a Pilates Teaching Framework from an international survey of teacher practice. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, 24(3), pp.943-949.

PHROMPAET, S. et al., 2011. Effects of pilates training on lumbo-pelvic stability and flexibility. Asian Journal of sports medicine, 2(1), pp.16.

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