For many people, the source of their lower back pain is poor posture. The pain is usually caused by certain muscles being stronger than the opposite, hence the reason you lean forward.
If when you stand up you are naturally in the flexed position (head and shoulders forward of the spine), that puts a lot of stress on your back and can cause pain.
At the very heart of Pilates are exercises that are meant to strengthen your core, the muscles responsible for good posture, including your abs and back stabilizers, and can get you upright again.
Pilates not only strengthens your core muscles to improve posture, but also:
- Creates neutral spinal alignment
- Increases awareness of your posture.
- Helps you breathe better
- Improves joint flexibility
Creates neutral spinal alignment
Neutral spinal alignment is where the neck, shoulders, and head are aligned or centered over the spine so there is no imbalance or more force in front of or behind the spine. It is this imbalance that may be the root cause of back pain.
Increases awareness of your posture.
Part of the Pilates philosophy is to focus or create awareness on doing the exercises in the most correct way possible. By doing the exercise, you become more aware of how to control your muscles, including the muscles that create good posture. After a while, you will use this posture awareness as you go about your daily life. The result will be a longer, leaner appearance because you will be walking and standing straight and upright.
Helps you breathe better
Another benefit of better posture is that you will breathe easier. Because you are now upright, your diaphragm can work better, allowing you to breathe out better and take in more air as you inhale. This in turn provides more oxygen to the muscles so they can respond better to Pilates exercises.
Improves joint flexibility
With Pilates, you are extending the muscles and ligaments attached to a joint through their full range of motion. By doing so, you are creating a balance in force within your muscles, allowing them to be more flexible. Greater flexibility also helps with balance and can make daily tasks easier.
As far as exercise that will improve posture, there is no better program than Pilates. As you get more erect, get flatter abs, exude confidence, and show off that long, lean look, you’ll be asked “You look great! How are you doing?” That will be your verification that Pilates is right for you.