When it comes to grueling workouts, your core tends to hog all the attention—especially during the summer, when your six-pack is on constant display. But behind every strong core, there’s an even stronger back, so pay particular attention to these important muscles as well.
Pilates is emerging as one of the most effective ways to strengthen lower back muscles and to improve existing chronic back pain—and with good reason. We turn to top Zeel Pilates experts and good old-fashioned science to find out why.
Therapeutic benefits. According to a study published in the Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy, Pilates reduces lower back pain. Researchers found that, of 39 participants between the ages of 20 and 55 who complained of lower back pain, those individuals who practiced Pilates reported a significant decrease in discomfort and disability.
For beginners and pros. Pilates trainer and NYC-based Pilates instructor Mimosa Gordon explains that Pilates exercises are meant to help increase strength without placing negative stress on the back. First timers, however, may consider starting with a basic mat class in order to build muscle strength before attempting a more challenging reformer session.
Spine stabilization. The use of the Pilates reformer —a specialized piece of equipment—offers support throughout a session, stabilizing the spine over a prolonged period of time. If you’re not quite up to reformer classes, mat work provides a gentle way to strengthen the muscles in your lower back too while easing in to the practice.
Modified Movements. If you feel any back strain during Pilates, simply tweak your pose. Celebrity instructor Daniel Loigerot, who has worked with actress Naomi Watts, recommends placing your hands in a ‘V’ shape under your bottom while sitting to add support to the lower back. Reduce your range of motion and keep your knees slightly bent to alleviate back stress.