A common question I get asked is what’s the best pilates exercise I can do for low back pain relief?
And whilst there are lots I’d recommend, all for different back pain relieving reasons, if I HAD to pick only one pilates exercise for low back pain relief, it would be the Pilates Spine Curl, sometimes referred to as the pelvic curl.
And today I’m sharing a simple How To video that breaks down the exercise, helping you to get the most out of it.
Joseph Pilates once famously said:
The spine curl then, is THE pilates exercise to build flexibilty in your spine at all ages and stages of life!
It’s an exercise that ticks all the boxes when it comes to your back because:
you move your spine sequentially helping to maintain mobility and length in it
it strengthens your glutes and hamstrings; two muscle groups essential for supporting your low back
it opens your hips (anyone that sits a lot needs this!).
When I had my chronic low back pain, this was a pilates exercise that I did daily to get mobility into my back after a long day of sitting.
And the good news is, you only need to do a few of them to feel the benefit – remember at Ostara we advocate for a less is more approach to our health and wellbeing.
The video is less than 10 minutes, so an easy one to sneak into your day.
That said, this is one where it really does pay off to focus on the quality of the exercise, especially if you’re in that low back pain camp, like I was! So watch this as many times as you need to help you get the most out of this tension freeing exercise.
Pilates Pro Tip: Holding the spine curl and taking it into single leg toe taps, will help strengthen those glutes even faster! This is often called the Pilates Shoulder Bridge.
Hit PLAY on your Pilates Spine Curl How To video now and feel for yourself the difference it makes.
Don’t forget to leave a comment and let me know if it helps to get your back moving.
See you on your mat!
P.S. Ready to put what you’ve learned into practice and get that back moving? Then use this link to try my short 10 minute Healthy Backs pilates workout from my 21 Day Pilates Challenge. If you enjoy it, then you can sign up for the full 21 days below!
Did you know I ended up in pilates because I suffered chronic low back pain for over 2 years when I was in my mid twenties? It’s true. I was 25 and couldn’t even bend over to tie my shoes.
I had over 30 physio sessions, took prescribed sleeping tablets, had 2 MRI scans and a set of injections in my lumbar facet joints and not one single thing made a difference to the pain I felt day in and day out. It was truly debilitating in every way. I spent hours in the dead of night reciting Philip Larkin poems, willing the day to come. When it did, I spent hours lying on the floor stretching. I had to trade my beloved heels for not so beloved flat shoes and had to alternate between standing and sitting everywhere I went, and yet no position felt comfortable. I had to have a zillion adjustments made at work and used a wedge cushion for driving.
And then along came a newly graduated, fresh faced physio from Down Under who took one look at me and said, “you need to do pilates.” At that point in time, the only person I’d heard of who did pilates was Madonna and the only place to do it was in LA! However, if he had said get yourself and on a plane to Arizona and jump off the Grand Canyon to sort it, I would have done it! As luck would have it, I didn’t have to do that, nor did I have to go to LA to hang out with Madonna. Instead the gym at RBS Gogarburn, where I was working like a dog, was about to launch a run of pilates classes so I immediately signed up.
I remember every single thing about that lesson. There was a total of 5 exercises with the rest of the class being structured around learning completely alien things to me like spinal alignment, finding a neutral pelvis and how to make best friends with your ‘corset’ of support to support your back (corset = your deep abdominal muscles). I remember having to do a curl up and was shocked to find that I could barely lift my head off the mat, let alone my back! But in that 60 minutes something magical happened; for the first time in 2 years, I left that room with zero pain. How could that be? After everything I’d done to try and manage my back pain in 2 years, including a medical intervention, how could 60 minutes of 5 exercises melt it away? It left me feeling light and happy and I was hooked. The pain came back but the more I went to pilates the less and less it came back until eventually it didn’t come back at all!
That was way back in 2005. It’s a true story and, fifteen years on, is the reason I still do pilates everyday – be in 10 minutes or 60. I never want to feel that pain again – anyone who has suffered chronic low back pain will get my drift here. It is the pitts and effects everything in your life.
I felt stronger, calmer and more able to enjoy life with each and every class. I started to live my life in a different way and as time went on, I also started to notice things that were out of kilter with my new found way of living, particularly the fact that I had been spending faaaarrrr too long chained to a desk all day, working in a high performing team for a high performing company and busting a gut to keep up. It was stressful, fast paced and – dare I say it – cut throat at times. Recognise it? Yip, all of that contributed to my back issues too. In fact, within a year of conquering my back pain through pilates, I quit my high performing job and went to work for a smaller business that still had high expectations of delivery but without the competitive, internal politics of the big global corporation I was slogging away for. It was also handily located within the city centre which meant I could ditch the 1 hour commute to work each way and actually walk to work (and also meant I could fit in 2 pilates classes a week instead of 1).
Pilates really has been the only thing that has helped my back – it has been worth every penny of investment I have made on it. It is so easy to slip it in to your day – spending just 10 minutes on 4 or 5 exercises every day, or every other day, will leave you feeling stronger, calmer and better about everything; do if for long enough and you’ll start to see those little magical shifts in how you go about your every life stuff. I promise.
It is incredibly difficult to truly ‘damage’ your back but like any living thing (yes your spine is a living, breathing thing!), if you don’t look after it, it will stop working. There is lots of medical research to support the fact that you no longer have to hold an anatomical position and work the back mechanically; movement in all directions is best. Here are my 8 go to pilates exercises to help loosen off a stiff or sore low back – do all 8 or pick and choose a few. Aim for around 8 -10 reps of each 2 or 3 times a day if you can; they are truly magical for your back:
Sore back? Feeling stressed? Looking for a way to exercise that fits neatly into your every day life in a way that will build strength, reduce stress and will 100% leave you feeling better than before you rolled your mat out? Then join the other 100+ people signed up to my newsletter for hints, tips and guides on how the magic of pilates can help you every day too.
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