Pilates Exercises Hurt my Back

"I'm trying to get into Pilates to strengthen my back and core muscles as I suffer from lower back pain and after having a baby things aren't as toned as they could be.

I'm finding that the floor exercises are putting a lot of pressure on the base of my spine and making it too painful to carry on with the exercises.

I am using an exercise mat and trying my best to keep my spine connected to the floor as instructed but once I go into the movement it feels like I'm exercising on a rock.

Please help as I'm sure in the long run this will help me with my posture but at the moment I just feel like giving up which I don't want to do."

Jennifer's Response:

You are right in that Pilates is very helpful at strengthening the core muscles, specifically those that were overstretched during pregnancy.

The SI Joint and sacrum in particular are affected during pregnancy and need special attention after. Make yourself as comfortable as possible by padding the floor under you.

If your mat is not thick enough put another blanket or two under it.

A few things you may want to start with:

Are you flattening your spine into the mat or keeping neutral spine?
Look at this article to help you find neutral spine.

Some people have an exaggerated curvature of the spine which can cause lower back pain if you are not in neutral(meaning spine is braced with ribcage connected and abs engaged).

On the other hand if you have a fairly flat spine it can feel like lying on a rock, which is how you seem to feel.

In that case work on strengthening the natural curve by placing a small pad,towel, etc. under the lumbar spine to cushion it while doing the exercises.

You also have the option of doing the exercises sitting up on a ball or chair.

The exercise ball can be very effective at strengthening the core whether you are lying sitting or using it on the mat due to its instability.

Check out some of the pilates ball exercises here. Anytime you are on the ball you are working the core .

Remember, Pilates principles can be applied to any exercise you do, even in the water.

Follow the breath, neutral spine, etc. and find exercises that are fun for you to do that do not cause pain.

Check out the new Core Ball Exercise DVD here.

Comments for Pilates Exercises Hurt my Back

Average Rating starstarstarstarstar

Click here to add your own comments

Dec 20, 2008
Pilates ebook has helped me
by: Toni

I have found the Pilates ebook that Jennifer recommends to be very beneficial to prevent and relieve the back pain I have been having on and off for years.

There are 3 levels of progression and detailed descriptions for different back conditions for each exercise. This makes it very helpful for those of us who can't do the full exercise without pain.

You can pick and choose out of more than 30 exercises which ones work best for you.

Check it out here: Pilates Ebook

Jun 15, 2008
I like the graphics
by: Kim McGuire

I love the green and pink exercise ball graphics! Also, good job at linking to the exercise ball chair product.

Click here to add your own comments

Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Pilates Question or Story.

Excercise for Lower Back Pain

by Dagmar
(Ilminster, Somerset,UK)


How do I know if I did the excercise correct? I bought a DVD because a year ago I had a bad back pain, could not move for 2 days. Ever since I have problems with my Lower back, for example after a walk (even short) I can not sit down as it feels like my lower back just wants to break.

I did Pilates classes about 2 years ago just to try. At the time I did not have any problems, so I never felt it did anything for me.

But as Pilates is supposed to be very good in helping reducing back pain, I bought a DVD and started the exercise yesterday. I did not feel any pain whilst doing the exercise.

This morning though I could (and still can) feel my Lower Back. It is not really hurting, but I feel something has happened with my lower Back.

So my question is, did I do the exercise right? Or did I do something wrong if I feel my back today?

Thank you for in advance for your very much appreciated reply

Jennifer's Response:

Hi Dagmar and thank you for trusting in me with your back pain.

I'm not sure which DVD or specific Pilates exercises you were doing, but you should not feel pain or like you have damaged your low back, especially if you are doing Pilates exercises correctly.

Pilates focus is on developing core or abdominal strength, which helps to support and stabilize the spine. If you are feeling your back then you were probably trying to do more advanced exercises without first learning the basic or fundamentals of Pilates.

Or... you may be working through a full range of motion when you should be modifying for your ability. For instance, with the leg circles try doing them from a bent knee position. Do the hundreds with your knees bent and every other exercise to begin with.

If you have both legs up in the air in tabletop position and you feel stress in your lower back pull them into your chest more, or support your back by sliding your hands under your hips.

In the beginning you should feel like you aren't working that hard, but it does take a lot of concentration to work the correct inner core muscles. So, Please take your time and develop your muscles from the inside first before you try to feel it more externally.

Check out some of the pages below for extra help in getting started correctly with your Pilates practice.

Basic Pilates Moves.

Beginner Pilates DVD

The Pilates Ebook available here at my site will take you through a progression of these basic to advanced exercises.

Click here to post comments

Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Pilates Question or Story.

Enjoy this page? Please pay it forward. Here's how...

Would you prefer to share this page with others by linking to it?

  1. Click on the HTML link code below.
  2. Copy and paste it, adding a note of your own, into your blog, a Web page, forums, a blog comment, your Facebook account, or anywhere that someone would find this page valuable.
Visit Jennifer's profile on Pinterest.
Check Out Our #1 Recommended Ebook For Lasting Relief!

Get Instant Access to Loads of Color Pictures, Postures, and Information Designed to Increase Comfort and Happiness.

Learn to Enjoy Life Again!

Learn More!