About 80% of people will report back pain at some point of their lives. It is one of the most common issues that is presented to physiotherapists and it’s far more complex than an x-ray or MRI will have you believe!

Having completed a thorough medical examination and established the root cause of your pain a rehabilitation programme will be designed. Often, pilates type exercises can be integrated within this.

Some patients however may actually report that they have already been doing pilates and this had triggered their pain or at best not helped it. This is where we come in! - Here are three reasons why pilates may have not been helping you.

Did you know?

1) Activating/Tensing your core when doing exercises to “protect” your back. This can lead to bracing (an activation of all of your trunk muscles) which can be too much activation. As an example, move your wrist in circles, feels easy right? Now try with a clenched fist.

Harder, right? It is too much effort for a movement. This is very similar to a bracing trunk.

Furthermore “bracing” can lead to all sorts of pelvic floor problems such as stress incontinence in women. Our article next month will expand on this more.

2) Doing an exercise that is too complicated.
A popular exercise that people do is the ‘V’ this is a very dynamic exercise and can really load core muscles.

The ‘V’:


The ‘V’: Improper


Gross movement is often seen and it is poorly controlled at the head, neck and Thoracic spine (mid back). This often leads to neck pain and reinforces a forward head position and rounded shoulders.

3) Doing exercises that are too heavy.
A classic exercise that people do is the double leg lift. You lie on your back and lift both legs. Simple but requires a lot of core strength to do it without bracing. I often see people with back pain when they do this exercise incorrectly.

When your legs are lifted up, this weighs the pelvis down and makes you arch your back, straining the back muscles. You should be able to have adequate strength from the abdominals to stop your back from arching to keep your pelvis and spine in neutral (ideal position).

Call or email for a formal examination of your back pain and an expert review of how your pilates exercises could better be used in your care

Integrative Physio: +65 6493 2252 to see Kham or email:


Bachelors and Masters in Physiotherapy at Glasgow Caledonian University. He has worked in Singapore for
over a decade and has special interest and postgraduate
qualifications in clinical pilates.




Michael L.