Most doctors now advise anyone with non-specific lower back pain to stay active and keep moving, but if you have back pain it's understandable that you may be nervous of going to the gym or exercising at all. Pilates can increase your flexibility and strengthen your spine, improve the mobility of all major joints and improve your posture, giving you the confidence to start exercising again.

Alignment, Breathing and Centring

It’s important to start by learning how to control your alignment. Although poor posture doesn’t always lead to back pain (just as good posture doesn’t guarantee no back pain!) slouching puts pressure on the structures of your spine and can inhibit your deep postural muscles from working correctly.

Your deep core muscles wrap around your trunk, supporting your spine like a built-in corset. Sometimes through injury or poor conditioning they aren’t as efficient as they should be. Pilates exercises are perfect for ensuring they do their job properly. You are taught how to breathe well and how to use your deep core muscles to support your back. The goal is to gently mobilise your spine. 

‘The Cat’

Ease your back pain with this simple exercise – it teaches you how to mobilise the spine, segment by segment. Take your time to move bone by bone.

Starting Position

Come onto all fours with your hands beneath your shoulders and your knees directly beneath your hips. Your spine should be lengthened with its natural curves. Use your core to control your alignment and movement.


1. Breathe in wide to prepare.
2. Breathe out as you roll your pelvis underneath you as if directing your tailbone between your legs. As you do so, your lower back will gently round, continue this movement allowing your upper back to also round, followed by your neck, and finally nod your head slightly forwards.
3. Breathe in wide to the lower ribcage.
4. Breathe out as you simultaneously start to unravel the spine, sending the tailbone away from you, bringing the pelvis back to level (neutral). Lengthen the head and upper spine back to the starting position.
5. Breathe in.
6. Breathe out as you gently lengthen and lift your head, neck and chest forward, collarbones widening. Keep your pelvis still and level.
7. Breathe in and, still lengthening, return to the starting position.
Repeat up to ten times.


For Actions 1-3 do not overly round the upper back and ignore the lower back.
For Action 6, take care not to allow the lower back to dip.

Body Control Pilates