Pilates or Yoga for back pain

Q: Two years ago I went through chiropractic care for my low back pain. The treatment helped a lot and my chiropractor gave me some stretches to do for flexibility. Do you recommend Pilates or Yoga as well?

A: Pilates is a fitness regime devised by Joseph Pilates in the early 1900’s. Similar to yoga, the exercises consist of controlled movements that are meant to engage the mind and body with an emphasis on developing strong, flexible muscles, without repetitive exercises that build bulk.

In general, I recommend Pilates and/or yoga as a means of promoting flexibility, strength and tension relief. However, as with any form of exercise, it is essential that you do not push yourself beyond what your body can readily endure. In other words, start the exercises at the beginner’s level. Even then you may need to modify some of those exercises depending on your condition.

When taking Pilates or yoga for the first time, I recommend that you take a class taught by an experienced instructor rather than working out to a video. Your instructor can coach you on proper form and suggest the appropriate modifications to exercises based on your special needs and skill level. As you become more advanced, you may then want to use a video instead of going to class.