Is Pilates a Viable Treatment Option for Lower Back Pain?

Jul 12, 2017

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Doctors and patients are always searching for new treatment techniques to help relieve lower back pain.

Doctors and patients are always searching for new treatment techniques to help relieve lower back pain. Every person is going to have his own method of approaching discomfort; what that method looks like will largely depend on factors like age, body weight, height, and more. Pilates is a relatively new form of treatment for lower back pain, but does research support its effectiveness?

What is Pilates?

Pilates was first developed in the early 20th century by Joseph Pilates. The exercise is often presented as a series of controlled movements that can help improve endurance, control, and strength. Like most physical therapy exercises for back pain, the workouts focus on strengthening the core and putting emphasis on the body’s alignment. Since its inception, there have been many versions of Pilates developed throughout the world, though most of them retain the nine central principles:

  • Flow
  • Breathing
  • Concentration
  • Control
  • Centering
  • Precision
  • Alignment
  • Stamina
  • Relaxation

The Case For Pilates

More and more physiotherapy rehabilitation programs are including Pilates in their plans. For many patients, this route is seen as a relatively low-cost method of treatment, especially when methods like prescription pills and injections do not provide adequate results. According to research done by the Cochrane Library, Pilates is likely to be more effective than minimal intervention methods for immediate pain relief. Because Pilates is mostly a low-intensity exercise, it also does not have any dangerous side effects.

The Case Against Pilates

In 2000, the U.S. federal court determined “Pilates” a general term, which made it free for unrestricted use. This means that, theoretically, any person could pose as a “Pilates Expert” without going through any form of training or education themselves. While organizations such as the Pilates Method Alliance help regulate the teaching of this exercise, it is important that anyone interested in this method of treatment conducts thorough research of who she wants to hire as a Pilates coach or tutor. While studies such as those done by the Cochrane Library show how Pilates can provide some pain relief, these same studies often have small sample sizes with results that are not consistent enough to make it any more viable than other forms of physical exercise.

Like most lower back pain treatments, Pilates’ effectiveness will depend on the patient’s condition and the knowledge of the Pilates teacher. If you are experiencing chronic back pain and are searching for a pain clinic in New Jersey, the Garden State Pain Center can assist in determining the cause and best treatment for your pain. Contact us today at one of our many locations.