How to modify your Pilates practice for 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: Do low or moderate intensity workouts.


You don’t have to push yourself to get the benefits of working out. A level 1 class or modifying advanced exercises will avoid putting unnecessary strain on your body and still give you the benefits.


3/ Alignment: Keep an eye on your form.


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, modify or limit: Loaded spinal flexion and rotation exercises.


If you have been diagnosed with osteoporosis or osteopenia, many of the classic Pilates exercises should be avoided, limited or modified. However, there are so many pre-Pilates exercises that can be added to your practice to keep it challenging and interesting. It’s worth investing in a few privates with a Pilates Instructor.


Sit-ups are hard on your back – they push your curved spine against the floor and work your hip flexors, the muscles that run from the thighs to the lumbar vertebrae in the lower back. When the hip flexors are too strong or too tight, they tug on the lower spine, which can create lower back discomfort. – Harvard Health


Pilates exercises with loaded spinal flexion and/or rotation:



  • 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


Form & Progressions:

Start with the Progressions on the Pilates & YouTube to learn the correct form and how to modify your Pilates practice.




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