Master Pilates Techniques for Lasting Upper Back Pain Relief

Master Pilates Techniques for Lasting Upper Back Pain Relief


Pilates—an awesome exercise form. It helps your body become stronger and can reduce any back pain, acute or chronic. It’s great for improving posture, flexibility, and balance too! And if you want to get lasting relief from upper back pain, Pilates is the tool for you.

Here we’ll take a look at the basics of Pilates. We’ll also cover what you need to start and the techniques you can use to get the relief you need.

Definition of Pilates

Pilates is a fitness system developed in the early 20th century by Joseph Pilates. The goal is to create exercises to improve posture and alignment. The exercises involve the entire body, with special attention to the abs, back, lower body, and hips. Arms, legs, and shoulders are also targeted. Breathing is important, as well as using one’s body weight for resistance.

Pilates stands out from other forms of exercise because it focuses on precision and control of movement. This helps strengthen the core muscles that are deeper than surface muscles. Benefits include better posture, coordination between limbs and torso, concentration, flexibility, and awareness of how the mind affects movement. Also, using correct alignment during exercise can prevent injuries or help existing pain.

Benefits of Pilates for Upper Back Pain

Pilates is an exercise created by Joseph Pilates in the 1900s. It’s done with slow and controlled movements on equipment or on the floor – with or without props. The aim is to lengthen and strengthen muscles, improving posture and relieving back pain.

Practicing Pilates can make you more aware of your body, improve posture, increase range of motion and reduce back pain. It’s also beneficial for people suffering from upper back pain as it focuses on core strength, balance, flexibility and posture. Instructors use core muscles to increase stability in the upper back and reduce pain. Stretching also reduces tightness in muscles which can cause pain due to bad posture and scoliosis.

Good breathing techniques can lower stress levels. This helps reduce tension headaches and other chronic pains, because it relaxes muscles and increases oxygen throughout the body. This delivers energy more efficiently and reduces overall stress.

Basic Pilates Techniques

Pilates is great for bolstering your upper-back and core muscles. It can tackle the root of upper-back ache, like weak postural muscles, poor posture, and instability. These Pilates basics will help you beef up and stay stable for lasting relief from upper-back pain. Let’s get started!

The Hundred

The Hundred is the perfect Pilates technique for beginners. It’s named after the 100 breaths you take while doing it. This move builds core strength and stabilization.

Start by laying on your back with arms over your head and legs extended. Then, lift your hips until they’re in line with your upper body. Inhale for 5 counts, lower legs to 6 inches off floor for 5 counts, and raise them back up for 5 counts – do this 7 times. Clench all major muscles as you do this. Inhale deeply and fully before starting each cycle. This will help your abs and oxygen intake.

The Hundred is vital for any Pilates routine. It can also relieve neck, shoulder, and upper back pain!

Single-Leg Stretch

The single-leg stretch pilates exercise targets the lower abs. It helps improve coordination and releases tension in the upper back and shoulders.

To start, lie on your back with legs outstretched. Bring one knee into your chest. Reach for that foot with the opposite hand. Don’t pull yourself up. Use the foot as resistance against your hand. Hold for 3 to 5 breaths. Then switch sides.

To increase the difficulty, add movement to the legs. Push with the extended leg while you pull with the opposite arm. This targets muscles from both sides of the hips to glutes, and engages deeper abdominal muscles for an effective core workout.

This exercise can be used as an active warm-up or a strengthening exercise. Just make sure not to overexert yourself.

Double-Leg Stretch

The Double-Leg Stretch is a core exercise in Pilates. It encourages body awareness, breath coordination, and movements connected to your core. The muscular connections it creates strengthens and mobilizes the spine while increasing flexibility in opposing muscles. This gentle exercise can relieve upper back pain in minutes.

To begin, sit up tall. Feet flat on the floor, knees touching together, hip-width apart. Hands behind the head, lightly holding your ears. Mindful not to put pressure on them. Elbows out wide.

Inhale. Exhale. Crunch up towards your toes. Belly button towards the spine. Curl forwards from the hip area. Arms straight. Chest lifted. Lean forward for balance.

Lift back up through the center. Starting from a neutral pelvis position. Balanced across both hips. Inhale. Bring energy into the abdominal area. Exhale. Curl down for another rep. Working all angles in and out of center.

Do 10 reps. Then come all the way down into an Extended Child’s Pose. Lay your torso flat on your legs. Do this either seated or lying down. Depending on which position suits you most efficiently. With proper breathing taught by Pilates, you will get results!

Single-Leg Circle

The single-leg circle is a Pilates exercise. It can aid in improving core strength and stability. It is great for those with back pain or other physical issues. Arms should be extended out alongside when doing the exercise.

The working leg should be lifted off the ground. Move it in a circular pattern similar to a clockwise pendulum. Keep your abdominal muscles engaged for the best technique. Focus on creating a smooth looping curve from knee to hip. Don’t rotate or jerk too much. Aim for controlled and deliberate motions.

Practicing this technique can help relieve upper back pain. It also strengthens core muscle groups. This includes abdominals, obliques, buttocks, quads and hamstrings. This helps maintain postural alignment when doing activities like lifting, standing, bowing and running.

Double-Leg Circle

The Double-Leg Circle is a must-do Pilates exercise. It strengthens core muscles and relieves upper back pain.

Begin by lying on your back with bent knees and feet on the floor. Place hands at your sides or stomach. Inhale and lift both legs to a 45-degree angle. Make a big circle with your legs, toes to hips, then back together. Keep abdominals held tight and repeat 10 times. Exhale and draw legs together inward, trying to touch toes, and rotate them outward. Repeat 10 times. Notice how far the spine lifts off the floor and keep neck and rib cage in neutral alignment.

Afterward, remain still for a few moments and relax. Allow arms to rest at sides. Stabilize torso and let tailbone heavy down. Create a weightless sensation and get relief from the exercise session.

Intermediate Pilates Techniques

Pilates is fab for those trying to stay free of upper back pain. Intermediate Pilates moves are amazing at targeting and strengthening the core muscles which help the spine and make stability.

Let’s explore some great intermediate Pilates for long-term pain relief!

Roll Up

The Roll Up is a deceivingly simple Pilates exercise. It helps to improve core stability, body awareness, flexibility, and can relieve upper back pain. This exercise links your movement to your breath and uses a flow of energy called concave/convex theory.

Start by lying on your back with bent knees and feet placed in front of you. Arms should be overhead, palms facing up. On an inhale, slowly reach up towards the ceiling. Engage your abdominals to support you. Move through each vertebra one at a time until reaching full articulation around mid-back area. When fully extended, bring hands together in prayer position with elbows level with shoulders. Lightly press fingertips together for a few seconds before returning to starting position on an exhale. Repeat 2-3 times or until fatigue sets in.

Activating both upper and lower abdominals while lifting head off the floor in the Roll Up exercise increases blood circulation around vertebrae area. It can help relieve tension that builds up over time, which can cause chronic upper back pain. Make sure to focus on abdominal muscles and circle them around your torso, creating balance throughout all spinal areas.

Spine Stretch

The spine stretch is an intermediate Pilates exercise. It helps to relieve upper back pain. When done correctly, it can reduce discomfort and aches. It works by stretching the spine, increasing flexibility and creating more space between vertebrae.

To perform the spine stretch, start by lying on your back with feet flat and knees bent at a 90-degree angle. Exhale as you lift one leg up, keeping hips and abs strong. Inhale as you lower back down. Do this several times on both sides. Do up to 10 times per session for best results.

  • Engage proper muscles and focus on keeping good posture.
  • Breathe deeply throughout each repetition.

This ensures you get all the benefits for lasting pain relief!


The Corkscrew is a classic Pilates move to strengthen the upper back. It tones, targets and alleviates pain in the shoulder blades, chest, arms and upper back. This is an intermediate move combining multiple positions and motions.

To do The Corkscrew correctly:

  1. Lie on your back with your feet flat on the floor.
  2. Square off your hips, and reach both arms overhead with your fists facing each other.
  3. In one continuous motion, lift one knee so it is parallel with the hip. Curve your spine and press down into both palms of your hands. You will feel a stretch through the opposite hip joint and a slight arch in your upper body.
  4. Repeat up to 8 times for each leg. Then reverse the motion so you are lying flat again with arms extended above you. Switch legs and repeat 8 more times if needed.
  5. Slowly release from lifting your feet up towards the ceiling. Induce a gentle stretch through your arms, extending them away from the body.

This exercise should be done slowly for maximum benefit. Focus on using correct technique to keep your spine aligned and avoid injury or pain.

Swan Dive

The swalve dive is an exercise to focus on spine extension and hip flexion. With inhalations, coil or stretch from the hips to the back. With exhalations, focus on trigger points.

Lie face down on a mat. Place palms below your shoulders, thumbs underneath your chest line, and elbows touching your side ribs. Inhale and extend your spine up along its axis. Engage all four corners of your pelvis.

On exhale, bring abdominals deep into your core. Push through hands, arms pressed down towards the ground. Rotate your pelvic around its central axis. Keep shoulder blades apart and neck neutral. Hold for 8-10 breaths.

Release by relaxing your thoracic spine into neutral. Place forehead onto floor. Release arms above head into a T shape. Repeat fluidly.

  • Focus on quality not quantity.
  • Maintain a steady breath throughout postures.
  • Enjoy the lasting benefits.


It’s time to say goodbye to upper back pain and feel your best! Pilates is a full-body workout that is gaining popularity once again – it was introduced in the 1920s. This guide will show you how to use Pilates to end your chronic pain. Find out the essential exercises, equipment and tips you need to get started. Be ready to experience the power of Pilates and experience relief!

Advanced Pilates Techniques

Pilates is a fan-fave for those striving for better posture, flexibility and fitness. Did you know it can also help with chronic upper back pain? Yes! There are many advanced Pilates techniques that can bring relief.

Let’s take a peek at them now! We’ll discuss the various ways to use Pilates for lasting relief from upper back pain:


The boomerang is a Master Pilates Technique. It’s usually done on the Reformer and helps with upper back pain relief. This exercise involves the whole spine and is meant to be done slowly and in control. You might need some practice, while monitoring your body posture.

To do the boomerang, lay face down on the Reformer carriage. Put your arms straight up, in line with your shoulders. Then, arc like a beam, with lotus feet and wide legs. Inhale and press away from the carriage. This is Mermaid Pose.

Exhale and lift up into Bridge Pose. Squeeze into a ‘C’ shape, with your lower abdomen engaging all the time. Return to Mermaid Pose. Repeat this cycle, 10 or more times.

You will feel relief, as it stretches and strengthens your weak areas. Keep your shoulder blades together for extra back support. This will help with chronic pain, and with daily activities.

Side Kick

The Side Kick is a Pilates exercise to strengthen and stretch the upper back muscles. It’s important for people with chronic neck or upper back pain.

Lie on your side, legs extended. Place one arm under your head. Quickly lift both legs at the same time. Point them towards the ceiling, then bring them back down, parallel. You’ll feel a stretch up and down your side.

Repeat 8-10 times. Transition to other side. Maintain control of each repetition. You should feel increased range of motion and tension throughout your spine and head.

The Side Kick is hard to do. You must have mastered easier Pilates exercises like The Double Knee Curl or Single Knee Curl first!

Single-Leg Teaser

The single-leg teaser is an advanced Pilates exercise. It’s used for relieving pain in the upper back and improving posture.

You lift your chest up, keeping your spine as straight as possible. Push through your heel to stay balanced. Keep core active and move slowly. Hold at the fullest extension without straining or overstretching. Then slowly release back to the mat before repeating on opposite leg.

Once mastered, this exercise strengthens upper back muscles and increases flexibility in chest, neck, shoulders and core area. It can also relieve tension in lower back. Do it alone or with other exercises that build strength in areas related to improved posture. Such as rotator cuff muscles or legs.

Double-Leg Teaser

The Double-Leg Teaser is a tough Pilates move. It helps with upper back issues. It can also stop back pain. It activates deep core muscles. This can help posture, strengthen spinal and abdominal support, and reduce stress.

To do the exercise, lie on your back with legs straight and arms at sides. Engage abdominals and lift legs off the floor together. Tighten abdominals and lift until shoulder blades are the only thing on the floor. Then lower back down with control.

Once you have mastered the basics, there are more advanced techniques. Try:

  • Pressing one leg up and another down.
  • Folding one leg over another while doing circumduction.
  • Alternating hip drops while supporting yourself.
  • Curling up and over to create an arching Swan Dive Pushup!

These variations challenge the stability muscles in the core. This gives greater balance and support.


The Mermaid is a Pilates technique designed to provide lasting relief from upper back pain. It requires flexibility, core strength, and a full range of motion in the neck and spine. People with neck or shoulder issues and those who want to progress to more advanced exercises can benefit from it.

To do the Mermaid exercise, lie on your side with arms and legs crossed at the waist. Place the upper arm over the head, keeping the wrist straight and the outside elbow anchored to the torso. Engage the core and slowly move both arms out above your head, creating a Mermaid tail posture. Keep your stomach engaged and press out against something imaginary for added support.

Align the shoulder, hip, and foot. Keep your breath steady – inhale before each movement, then exhale as you pull against something imaginary for support. Don’t push too far when returning to the starting position; move slowly and breathe through each step. When finished, the legs should be crossed again at the waistline with the arms over the head in Mermaid Pose.


This guide outlines techniques to help those with stubborn upper back pain. Pilates strengthens muscle and increases flexibility, both of which are important to upper back health. Find a certified instructor to make sure you use the right form and build strength.

It may take time to reduce the pain, but you’ll gain posture and energy when done well. Pilates has been proven to benefit the mind and body. If you have time or resources, explore:

  • Breathing exercises
  • Roll ups
  • Balance training

With regular practice, your pain will lessen and posture will improve!

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How can Pilates help with upper back pain relief?

Pilates can improve both strength and flexibility in the muscles surrounding the upper back, such as the shoulders, neck, and chest. This can help reduce muscle tension, improve posture, and alleviate upper back pain over time.

2. Can beginners try Pilates for upper back pain relief?

Yes, Pilates can be modified to accommodate different skill levels, including beginners. However, it is important to work with a qualified instructor who can properly guide you through the exercises and make sure you are using the correct form to avoid injury.

3. How often should I do Pilates for upper back pain relief?

This can vary based on individual needs and preferences, but many experts suggest doing Pilates 2-3 times per week for best results. Consistency is key when it comes to seeing improvements in upper back pain symptoms.

4. What types of Pilates exercises are best for upper back pain relief?

Exercises that focus on stretching and strengthening the upper back, neck, and shoulder muscles tend to be most effective for alleviating upper back pain. Some examples include seated spinal extensions, the shoulder bridge, and the cat-cow stretch.

5. Can Pilates alone alleviate all types of upper back pain?

No, while Pilates can be a helpful tool in managing certain types of upper back pain, it is not a cure-all solution. It is important to speak with a medical professional to determine the underlying cause(s) of your pain and create a comprehensive treatment plan.

6. Is Pilates safe for those with chronic upper back pain?

In many cases, yes. However, it is important to work with a qualified instructor who can modify exercises to accommodate any physical limitations or conditions. It is also crucial to listen to your body and avoid pushing yourself too hard, which can exacerbate symptoms.

the back recovery program by alex larsson
Jane Smith is a natural health enthusiast on a mission to uncover effective methods for achieving pain-free living. Through her personal journey with chronic back pain, she has become well-versed in holistic approaches such as yoga, Pilates, and essential oils.

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