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How Pilates helped with my chronic back pain ピラティスで慢性の腰痛が改善

I HAD betrayed my body


How Pilates helped with my chronic back pain
You've only one spine. Don't live in pain for the rest of your life.

Spine health is one of those you take for granted until it becomes an issue for you or a loved one. This was certainly the case for me. The years of heavy physical labour and poor posture while standing or working on the computer contributed to neck pain and pain through the back of my legs.

When I threw my back out a few years ago, doctors never found anything “wrong” even though I had a lot of pain. They advised me to rest, but things never got better. When I did exercise, it didn’t take long for the back pain to return and put me back to square one. Weight gain happened. Pain increased. My mobility decreased. The negative cycle was crushing me. I felt adrift and betrayed by the body I was used to. But really, I had betrayed my body.

80% of adults will experience back pain, and it is the leading cause for missing work. There are many causes of back pain and not all of them are within our control - illnesses, accidents and a person’s natural body structure can all cause back pain.

PILATES FOR A healthy spine

A healthy spine can help make you more resilient. According to targeted exercises can improve spine health by strengthening core abdominal and back muscles that support the spine so that it can withstand the stress of daily activities.

A friend recommended Pilates. I was a bit sceptical but what did I have to lose?

A quick bit of research showed that Pilates helps strengthen your back and core which protects your spine. A qualified instructor chooses exercises and modifies them to suit the body’s current ability and pain level. But there are two points to consider: you need to make sure that there are no underlying conditions causing injury and you need to be really honest with the instructor about how your body feels. Trying to tough it out can make things worse.

My gym routine focused on cardio and weight lifting. I stretched but the minimum at best. At the gym I always finished with an ab routine, mostly crunches, leg raises and burpees. I thought I had strong abs. Maybe I had a kind of core strength but not the kind I needed and not a well balanced core strength.

Pilates movement “typewriter” showed me that I needed to work on my spine flexibility and that my core wasn’t as strong as I thought. Small, subtle exercises like “pelvic clock” taught me to strengthen muscles I had ignored. Because some of those moves don’t have a big, dynamic range they may look easy, but they’re not. They can be difficult to master and can be quite tiring.

Another difference between working with a Pilates instructor and simply going to the gym and using machines, is the focus on using your body correctly. As I said earlier, a motion may feel right to you because you are relying on your habits. Working out at the gym I definitely was not using my core and back in ways that made me stronger even though I was putting in the time.

Weekly workouts on the reformer with Helen plus mat work at home made me stronger instead of continuously breaking me down. I developed new body awareness. I was shocked to learn when my back wasn’t straight when I thought it was. At first I was sure Helen was wrong.

Eventually, I learned what standing properly really felt like and how to do it right. It wasn’t always easy and it didn’t happen overnight. But I improved. I could feel the improvement. My endurance has increased and my body moves more freely with almost no pain. From having to concentrate on how I move my body and barely being able to walk or squat and stand up last May to moving much more freely in November.

But it’s not enough just to practice Pilates in the studio. While waiting for train, I check my posture and try to align my spine properly. I pull my spine up instead of sinking into myself. Rather than letting my spine support the weight, when I carry a bag I engage my core. Applying the lessons in daily life has its own rewards. My bag starts to feel lighter. I’m less tired at the end of the day.

Do I have a perfect record of Pilates every day, all day?

Hardly. But when I’m tired, after making these little checks and changes I discover a hidden reserve of energy. Having less body pain means I have more mental energy for family and friends. I’m more patient too.

I may not be able to control everything that might happen to my back, but I’m willing to put in the work to give it as good as chance as possible. Good spine health doesn’t just mean mobility, it means an improved quality of life.

Japanese Translation





















My Body My Pilates is a boutique Pilates Studio situated in the heart of Tokyo, Japan. Our classes are available for English, Chinese and Japanese speaking clients. We invite you to join us if you yearn for a gorgeous, strong, lean body.

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