I am a female in my 50s and I have lower back pain problem. Recently I have heard that pilates can help to solve this problem, but I am not sure if this exercise is suitable for me. Are there any risks or side effects if I do pilates?


Lower back pain can be due to a number of conditions, such as simple muscle strain, intervertebral disc protrusions and degenerative conditions of the bone and joints. If there are no sciatica symptoms, numbness or tingling sensation in the legs, then it is unlikely that the nerve to the leg is pinched.

In this case, exercises, such as back and core muscle strengthening and gentle stretching can be done as a start, to improve the back muscles (usually under supervision by a Physiotherapist). Pilates, which can be strenuous, should be avoided when there is back pain. It may cause further muscle strain and even a disc protrusion if the patient has a weak back.

If there are symptoms from the back radiating down to the leg, then the patient should be properly evaluated by a doctor, to make sure that there is no pinched nerve. Usually the doctor will recommend an X Ray or MRI scan of the lumbar spine, so as to see the spine bone structure and the intervertebral disc. The most common conditions will be a “slipped disc” or degenerative disc condition. Sometimes there will be arthritis of the joint – this is called “facet joint syndrome”.

Dr Keith Goh
Consultant Neurosurgeon
International Neuro Associates