Core StrengthRunning Injuries

Pilates for Lower Back Pain

Alice Baquie

Alice Baquie

· 5 min read

Exploring Pilates for Low Back Pain: Personal Observations and Clinical Insights

Alice Baquie,

A Journey with Back Health

In my experience as a Physio within the running demographic, Low Back Pain (LBP) is more than just a clinical challenge; it's a common thread in the stories of many patients seeking pain relief, better athletic performance and a better quality of life. The journey to finding effective treatments for LBP has been both enlightening and humbling, guiding me towards a deeper appreciation for the nuanced care required to address this pervasive issue. Among various treatment modalities I've encountered, Pilates has emerged as a significant ally in this quest. After all, runners were made to move (and thrive when doing so) therefore movement medicine in the form of gentle rehab and Pilates is the tool we can all incorporate and research shows us this is especially for LBP.

The Roots of Pilates

Joseph Pilates introduced his method in the early 20th century, focusing not on fitness for the masses but rather rehabilitation for the injured. Originally designed to aid soldiers returning from war, Pilates combined elements of strength, flexibility, and mental discipline, laying the groundwork for what would become a holistic approach to recovery and health. This historical backdrop is vital, as it positions Pilates within a therapeutic framework, highlighting its potential as a rehabilitative tool.

Understanding Low Back Pain

The complexity of LBP, stemming from various causes such as muscle strains or chronic conditions like degenerative disc disease, requires a comprehensive treatment strategy. The goal extends beyond mere pain alleviation to include restoring functionality and preventing recurrence, underscoring the need for a multifaceted approach to care.

Research Insights into Pilates and LBP

Research validates the effectiveness of Pilates in alleviating Low Back Pain, demonstrating its advantages in pain reduction and functional enhancement over other forms of exercise. A systematic review in PLOS ONE compared Pilates to other exercise forms in treating chronic low back pain, revealing that those practicing Pilates experienced notable improvements in pain and function. Such findings not only validate the therapeutic value of Pilates but also emphasise its role in enhancing patients' overall physical capabilities and, most importantly, quality of life. Pain is the ultimate disruptor of both joy and run performance. Finding clinical means to help mitigate pain symptoms, progressing through clinical movement strategies and then returning to full function is the ultimate goal when tackling the lumbar spine rehab journey.

Integrating Pilates into Clinical Practice

Incorporating Pilates into the LBP management plans in my practice has been a learning curve filled with positive outcomes. The emphasis on core stability, alignment, and intentional movement aligns with the holistic care approach needed for LBP. Moreover, the flexibility of Pilates to adapt to individual patient needs makes it a versatile option across different recovery stages. No matter how severe or chronic, there is always a way to adopt specific pilates moves into a LBP rehab program to help the individual. We get creative, we use a research based approach and we find a way to move safely, effectively and enjoy the process - a key component of any rehab program. If rehab isn’t a positive experience, it’s incredibly hard to stick to so I always keep that in mind when prescribing a movement plan to any patient and especially for LBP.

Reflecting on the Role of Pilates in LBP Management

Adopting Pilates as a component of LBP management reflects a broader shift in how we approach back health. This method's integration into pain management and rehabilitation strategies offers a promising avenue that marries traditional rehabilitative wisdom with contemporary clinical understanding.

Closing Thoughts

Reflecting on the role of Pilates in managing low back pain has reinforced my belief in its value, both personally and professionally. The positive impacts observed in patients have not only affirmed Pilates' efficacy but have also served as a reminder of the importance of maintaining an open, learning mindset in clinical practice. As we continue to explore and validate effective solutions for LBP, the intersection of Pilates with modern rehabilitation practices stands out as a testament to the evolving landscape of holistic health care.

See you on the mat!


Alice Baquie

About Alice Baquie

Alice has been a physio for fourteen years and specialises in injury prevention and management for runners. Alice has represented Australia in distance running and gymnastics so has sound knowledge of athletic performance and understands the importance of strength conditioning and mobility to help keep the body moving effectively to mitigate injuries.

Alice, otherwise known to her wonderful pilates community as AB is a fun loving inclusive person always ready to chat and have a laugh and has hosted 1000’s of online classes which attract people from all around the world, including 25 Aussie Olympians.