The Pilates method is a comprehensive body-conditioning method that is directed towards the development of the body and the mind of the individual. It teaches you to focus your mind on individual muscles in your body so as to strengthen and lengthen them.
Living on earth means welcome to gravity. As humans we walk upright; requiring gravitational forces to be transferred through the lower back and pelvis to the legs. Transferring load effectively requires proper function of bones, joints, muscles and nerves.
Think of an upside-down Y (two legs, the pelvis and the lower back). Now imagine water flowing through a Y joint in your sprinkler system, a dysfunction in load transfer is like a leak, with force being directed in the wrong direction which causes “pain/stress”. A common example relates to sacroiliac joint pain the centre of the upside-down Y in the human pelvis.
Gravity tries to push us into the ground and this force is called compression. Compression forces the bones of our backs together and buckling is, in part, prevented by the structure of the joints and the intervertebral discs. When your back is under more compression than it can handle, that is, when your muscle system is not providing the required support, the discs begin to bulge and the joints begin to wear out.
How does the muscle system resist gravity? Think of an axle in the centre of a bicycle wheel. The core muscles are like the spokes in the bicycle wheel, if the tension forces of the spokes are not balanced, the wheel has problems and the same applies with the core muscles of the back.
In Pilates we strive to perfect and fine-tune the engagement of the core muscles. This is done through consciously engaging the core before moving any limb, in other words preparing the lower back and pelvis for movement and load transfer.
The lumbo-pelvic core is made up of four muscles that are effective at stabilising the lower back and pelvis: transversus abdominis, pelvic floor, multifidus and diaphragm. So the significance of Pilates for back rehabilitation is stability; the ability to control the amount of movement of your joints during load.