Help! My back hurts

Lower back pain is one of the top reasons people come to us. It is such a common complaint that I almost expect people to mention it and tend to ask if it is not mentioned on our induction form.

The top 3 reasons I see lower back pain:

1. Being too sedentary and sitting down too long each day.

2. Carrying small children and incorrect lifting techniques.

4. An injury or fall.

We therefore often get messages from people saying their back is playing up, they feel like they have overused it or it is aching – so they will give Pilates a miss. Which almost makes sense. Almost.

Here are my thoughts on what to do if your back is aching. Think through what you have been doing and see if you can find the cause of the pain. Have you been sitting for longer than usual, for example on a long car journey? Have you been decorating, gardening or lifting heavy objects? Have you been doing a different form of activity? Did you sleep on a different bed or in an unusual position? If the answer is yes then the pain is likely to be muscular and Pilates can actually help. Strengthening your core will help prevent further damage to your back plus mobilising the spine can help stretch it out and release tight muscles.

Pilates with Priya: My back hurts...

To help muscular back aches:

1. Keep mobilising and moving it. Sitting or lying still  for too long will cause it to stiffen up.

2. Take some painkillers.

3. Come to Pilates but work at a lower level and one that does not cause you pain, make sure you tell your instructor wat has happened.

4. Soak in a hot bath.

5. See your GP/Physio if it gets worse.


Align your weaknesses for better posture.

Ever noticed what happens to your posture when you are tired? I definitely slump through my thoracic spine (upper back) and have  tendency to round my shoulders. I have a large mirror on the wall in my room and sometimes at night I will catch a glimpse of my posture. If I’m tired out it’s not a pretty sight. Knowing what your bad habits are is key to improving your overall alignment. Bad posture will lead to pain, tightness and weakness. That niggling back pain, shoulder tension and neck ache…could well be due to your posture.


A couple of definitions:

Posture: the way in which your body is positioned when you are sitting or standing. Good posture require the least amount of muscle activity to keep an upright position.

Good Posture reduces stress and fatigue on the body so helps it work more effectively.

Alignment: the proper positioning or state of adjustment of parts (as of a mechanical or electronic device) in relation to each other i.e. the body constantly works to try and maintain neutral.

Alignment takes into account the forces on the body and looks at how the body should be.

I know from my bad habits that I need to remind myself throughout the day and when I am doing Pilates to check my shoulder alignment and pull up through my thoracic spine.

Top Tip: Work out your weaknesses so you can become stronger.  Give yourself time to stretch and iron out thoses niggles. 2 examples that I often see:

1. Rounded shoulders:  Work on lifting through the ribcage (but not sticking it out too far) and sliding the shoulder blades down in your spine.  Use exercises like chicken wings and try lying on a roller to release.

2. Slumped and rounded lower back? Think about coming into neutral pelvis at certain points throughout the day. Try some pelvic tilts to find neutral and to strengthen the core.