I have a lot of new-to-me Pilates clients at the moment, most of whom came to me because they were doing Pilates and loving it, but still had bad lower back pain.
Since most folks come to Pilates to try to get rid of lower back pain, this is a big problem.
Pelvic Stability and Back Pain
The biggest issue I have seen in these new clients, as well as most of my clients over the past few decades, is lack of pelvic stability.
Basically, you can exercise all you want, but if your pelvis isn't stable, there is a good chance you will hurt your back.
The pelvis is literally the kingpin of the body. If the pelvis is stable when it needs to be, moving only when it needs to move, everything else works better.
What Is Pelvic Stability?
A neutral pelvis is a defined thing.
Your pelvis is neutral when the hip bones and pubic bones are all in the same horizontal plane.
If the hip bones are behind, or lower than, the pubic bones, you are in a pelvic tuck or posterior tilt. Your pelvis is tilted backwards, causing your lower back to flatten and your upper back to round more. This is useful for some exercises, but not as a place to live.
If the hip bones are in front of, or higher than, the pubic bones, you are in an anterior pelvic tilt. Your pelvis is tilted forward, causing your lower back to arch forward and your upper back to flatten. Again, this is useful for some exercises, but not as a place to live.
Once you find neutral, it is easier to know when you are moving out of it.
Why Does Your Back Hurt?
Since moving your pelvis moves your entire spine, lack of stability leads to a lot of unnecessary and unsupported spine movement. Unsupported spine movement leads to back pain.
Unsupported spine movement with added resistance or weight leads not only to back pain, but the possibility of true injury, like a herniated disc.
Unsupported spine movement with added resistance also leads to spinal and joint compression, where the space between the bones is lessened and things are pushed together. Again, this will lead to injury, like a "pinched nerve" or "pinched disc," causing more back pain.
Resources for Back Pain
1. Free Pilates Videos
Pilates Fundamentals for Back Pain
Here are a few tried and true Pilates fundamentals to help with back pain.