Pilates is a great form of exercise to help manage a current episode of low back pain, or prevent a future episode of low back pain. There are numerous Pilates exercises that can help but here are y top 5 Pilates exercises for low back pain.
Transverse abdominus isolation
The transverse abdominus muscle is a deep core muscle that acts like your bodies internal corset. It comes of the facsia that attached to the spine and warps around to the front inserting into the rectus abdominus. There are numerous ways to activate this muscle. One of the most common ways to activate it is by contracting the pelvic floor. This is achieved because the pelvic floor and transverse abdominus being on the same neurological loop – when you contract one muscle you contract the other.
Simply lie on your back with the knees bent. Take a deep diaphragmatic breath, as you breath out gently contract the pelvic floor muscle like you are trying to stop the flow of urine. Hold this contraction for 10 seconds whilst breathing normally and then relax. Repeat this 10 times.
Lower abdominal number 1
Similar to the transverse abdominus exercise, lie on your back with your knees slightly bent. Place your hands underneath your low back with the fingertips overlapping. Make the transversus abdominus contraction by gently squeezing your pelvic floor muscles and gently press your low back down onto your fingertips. Hold this contraction and gently lift 1 foot in the air bringing the knee to towards the chest. Slowly lower that leg back down. Switch legs, completing 10 repetitions on each leg.
There are numerous positions in which to try and activate the multifidus. Perhaps the easiest is inside crook lying. Lie on your left side with your left hand supporting your head, reach back with your right hand and with your fingertip and thumb feel the muscles in the lower back either side of the bony points in your spine. Think about these two points connecting with a piece of string and then gently drawing this to points together along the line of string. These two points one actually move but it is the intention to try and move them, which will activate the multifidus. You should feel a gentle swelling of the muscle on the fingertips at this point. Hold the contraction for 10 seconds, then rest for 10 seconds, repeating 10 reps, lying on both the left and right sides.
Horse stance vertical
This exercise is performed in four point kneeling. Set yourself up with your knees hip width apart directly under the hips and hands shoulder width apart directly under the shoulders. Make a transversus abdominus contraction then gently take the pressure out of one of me and the opposite hand, not even lifting than 1 cm off the floor. Hold this position for up to 10 seconds and then switch sides.
Supine lateral ball roll
This exercise requires a Swiss Ball. Lie on the Swiss Ball with it positioned between your shoulder blades and back of the head. Keep your hips up and have your arms pointing out to the side. Initiate the exercise by rolling off to one side trying to keep your pelvis, arms and trunk parallel to the floor. Just before you feel you are going to lose your balance and fall off the ball hold that position for a count of three seconds and then roll back to the middle. Repeat the exercise rolling to the opposite direction completing 10 reps going to both the left and the right.
Steve Hines is the Director and Head Physio at Wandsworth Pilates in SW London. Visit their website for more information.