7 Effective Pilates Exercises to Ease Your Back Pain

Lena Weib

Back discomfort affects over 80% of the population at some point in their lives.

Back pain may be a minor ache that passes quickly for some of us. Others, on the other hand, may face longer-term issues.

Pilates focuses on core muscle strengthening and support, as well as good posture and breathing strategies for optimal body movement.

These exercises target the spine and the muscles that support it. Many people who suffer from chronic back pain have found that regular pilates classes help them feel better.


Pilates exercises to alleviate back pain

The pilates exercises listed below will help you connect to your deep core muscles, which will support your back and relieve pressure.

Do this routine twice a week on a consistent basis to see the difference.

It’s important to remember that before beginning a program like this on your own, you should contact a doctor to determine the cause of your back discomfort.

1) Basic back extension

This is a basic yet effective exercise for strengthening the back extensor muscles, which are generally weak. It also aids in the development of core muscle control.

Follow these steps to do the basic back extension properly:

  • Lie down on your back with your head resting on a small cushion or rolled-up towel.
  • Palms should press in against straight legs and bring down towards flexed feet, with arms by the sides.
  • Set the upper and lower core muscles.
  • As the head and upper back lift slightly off the mat, successively from top to bottom, inhale and maintain this connection.
  • Hold for a few breath cycles at the peak (depending on ability).
  • Exhale to return to the starting position, working your way up from the bottom to the top.
  • Rep 5–10 times more.


2) Half chest curls

Rather than doing complete sit-ups, which might hurt your lower back if you have problems there, do a half chest curl to develop your core while also working your back muscles.

Here are the steps you can follow to do the half chest curls correctly:

  • Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. For further support, cross your arms over your chest or place your hands behind your neck.
  • As you progress through this move, keep your feet, tailbone, and lower back in touch with the mat to avoid putting too much stress on your low back.
  • Tighten your abs and lift your shoulders off the floor, exhaling out as you lift them higher.
  • Don’t lead with your elbows or tug on your neck; instead, move from your core.
  • Hold for a second, then slowly lower yourself back down. Rep 8-10 times more.

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3) Pelvic curls

One of the first exercises that people with back pain are taught is pelvic curls. It’s straightforward, yet it demonstrates how to use the abdominal muscles to support and stretch the back.

Here are the steps you can follow to do pelvic curls correctly:

  • Lie supine on the mat, hip-width apart, knees bent and feet flat on the mat. Place your arms by your sides, palms facing down. The neck, shoulders, and lower back should all be relaxed.
  • Inhaling to warm up, exhale to center yourself, then slowly lift your pelvis and spine off the mat, one vertebra at a time.
  • Inhale deeply and hold at the top of your lungs. The pelvis should be at its maximum posterior tilt, and the hip flexors should be stretched.
  • Finally, breathe and drop the trunk slowly. Return to the beginning posture by rolling down one vertebra at a time.

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4) The Hundred

This classic pilates motion balance inhales and exhales, allowing your diaphragm to effectively engage the muscles that support your spine and reduce the chance of injury.

Here are the steps that you can follow to do this exercise properly:

  • Lie on your back with your knees raised to form a 90-degree angle on your legs and your head and shoulders off the mat.
  • Pulse your arms up and down in short increments while pressing your core muscles onto the mat.
  • The goal is to complete 100 total pulses, but if you’re just getting started, 50 will suffice!

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5) Side bend

The oblique abdominals, quadratus lumborum, gluteus medius, and scapular stabilizers are all worked out in this exercise.

Follow these steps to do the side bend correctly:

  • Place your weight on one hip and sit sideways on the mat.
  • With fingers pointed away from the body, press the palm of the supporting arm onto the mat.
  • Bend your legs and position your front foot in front of your back foot.
  • Rest the top arm against the body’s side.
  • Inhale as the pelvis lifted off the mat, straightening both legs and elevating the top arm to a 90-degree abduction of the shoulder.
  • Exhale as the top arm reaches overhead and the pelvis lifts higher into a laterally flexed position.
  • Return to the prior posture by inhaling, then exhaling to return to the original position.

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6) Swan

This pilates exercise serves to strengthen the posterior of the body and enhance upper-lower body coordination.

Follow these steps to do the swan pose correctly:

  • Begin by lying face down on the floor, arms bent at the ribs, palms facing down, legs extended and hip-distance apart.
  • Slowly inhale as you push up from your hands, culminating in a modified “cobra” position with your head.
  • As you exhale, descend your upper body and lift your straight legs 4 to 6 inches off the ground.
  • To establish a fluid movement pattern, alternate this rocking motion from the upper-body lift to the lower-body lift.
  • Extend your arms forward instead of pushing them from the ground as you elevate your upper body off the floor as you go.

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7) Single leg lift

This exercise works the abdominal muscles while also stretching the hamstrings.

Follow these steps to do a single leg lift properly:

  • Begin by lying down on your back with your legs extended towards the ceiling and your shoulder blades elevated off the ground.
  • As you move your right leg closer to your chest, take a deep breath.
  • To pull the leg closer to the chest, grab the calf or the back of the thigh and lower the left leg gently towards the floor.
  • Exhale and switch legs, bringing the left leg up to the chest and the right leg down to the floor.
  • Throughout the movement, alternate 20 leg splits while breathing.

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Q. Have you tried some of these pilates workout?

Edited by Rachel Syiemlieh

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