“I want to start yoga or pilates to help with my back pain”
This is a common comment of back pain suffers at their initial physiotherapy assessment.
But is Pilates or yoga actually helpful in treating or preventing low back pain?
I normally advise that Pilates or yoga is great as a form of exercise. But do not choose to do it to solely cure your low back pain.
Pilates and yoga are excellent ways to improve general tone and fitness. However, its effectiveness as a treatment of low back pain is not proven.
To recover from low back pain and most muscle and joint injuries, your rehabilitation programme must include:
- Movement correction: identify poor movement patterns and correct accordingly
- Functional exercises: that are tailored to suit your goals
- Load: Enough weight that challenges the muscles to get bigger and stronger
In Pilates or yoga, these components are not provided in sufficient amounts to gain appropriate back strength to prevent reinjury. In addition to this, in a class format of yoga and Pilates it is difficult to provide individualised exercises to help manage your lower back. What is good for your friend’s back on the mat next to you, may not be suitable for your back.
Current research suggests that yoga and Pilates is a great way of gaining global flexibility and improving postural control. However, Pilates and yoga alone is in not enough to fortify your back against injury.
If you are recovering from back injury, ensure your physiotherapist or exercise physiologist provides you with an appropriate strength and conditioning programme to help you reach your goals and prevent reinjury.
Then you can top up your week with yoga, Pilates, running or any other activity you enjoy.