You can continue your Pilates practice if you have back pain.

The latest research supports the benefits of exercise for overcoming back pain. Pilates can be particularly beneficial because it strengthens the core muscles needed to support your back and promotes balanced muscle development.

Pilates teachers are trained to tailor sessions to clients with osteoporosis, osteopenia and other back related issues. If you are practicing on your own, there are a few things to keep in mind:

1/ Pain: If a movement causes pain, stop doing it. 

You shouldn’t experience pain during your practice. Your muscles may be sore a day or two after a workout but it should be a good kind of soreness. If you wake up thinking hello muscles rather than what the heck did I do, you’re on the right track.

2/ Intensity: Low or moderate intensity workouts are good to do.

You don’t have to push yourself to an extreme to get the benefits of working out. A level 1 class with modifications for the more demanding exercises will avoid putting unnecessary strain on your body and still give you the benefits.

3/ Alignment: Check your form to ensure that you’re working in good alignment.

Reduce the repetition of movements and/or the length of your practice to reduce the demand on your body. A few repetitions done well is better than a lot of repetitions done in poor form.

4/ Avoid loaded spinal flexion and loaded spinal rotation exercises.

Many of the traditional Pilates exercises for strengthening the core should be avoided by anyone diagnosed with osteoporosis or osteopenia. Specifically:


  • Hundred
  • Rollup and Neck Pull
  • Series of 5: Single Leg Stretch, Double Leg Stretch, Single Straight Leg, Double Straight Leg and Criss Cross/Bicycle
  • Teaser

Rolling Exercises:

  • Rolling like a ball
  • Open leg rocker
  • Seal

Spinal Exercises:

  • Spine stretch forward
  • Side stretch
  • Saw
  • Rollover
  • Jackknife 
  • Corkscrew [full expression]
  • Hip Circles

Other factors that can affect your back:


Get insights from Peter Gerbino MD to reduce bone density loss and reduce your risk of osteoporosis and osteopenia.

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