Pilates for Back Pain 
Wisdom from Lynda Lippin

Hi Lynda, thank you for taking time to talk about Pilates for back pain with us. I do appreciate you sharing your experience and expertise with us.

I found your website pilates-goddess.com when I started researching Pilates, and as I looked around the world of Pilates I was very impressed that your name is everywhere.

Please tell us briefly about yourself and your involvement with Pilates and Pilates for back pain, the services you have to offer, and the web sites that you write for.






I started doing Pilates as exercise for myself in 1987 when I was in college at SUNY Purchase. Student government was helping to fund the Pilates studio (formerly part of the Dance Department) and I was the VP of Finance. I first went to see what they were doing with their money and then kept going because I loved it and my back and joints felt better. I taught Pilates part time throughout graduate school for Philosophy, and then decided to leave academia and open a Pilates studio on the Main Line of Philadelphia when a client of mine who was pain free after 12 solid years of chronic lower back pain wanted to open it with me.

That studio is still open, as is the second studio I opened. My husband and I moved to Turks and Caicos Islands in 2005, I taught on the main island of Providenciales for 2 years and in 2007 we moved over to the exclusive A-List Parrot Cay Resort where I am in my third year as resident Pilates and Fitness Teacher, and my husband helps manage the private estates.

When I moved to a small island I realized how many people in the world were needlessly suffering from chronic neck & low back pain due to muscular imbalances and bad postural habits. Most of them do not have access to good Pilates teachers, many do not have lots of time to exercise, and I knew that through the internet I could give people the information they needed to add a little Pilates to their day and feel better.

While many of my customers have never met me, I do sell quite a few audios to people who have taken my Pilates classes at the hotel and want a "Lynda's Pilates" workout to do at home.

In addition I have 4 blogs, which deal with Pilates,Reiki healing (I am a Reiki Master), Fitness advice (I am a certified fitness trainer), and living in Caribbean. In addition I have my informational sites where I promote my free Pilates e-books and sell my Pilates audios. I also do some reviews and editorial for Blogcritics.org and for PilatesDigest.com.

1. Lynda, with all of your years of experience as a Pilates instructor, and using Pilates for back pain, I'm sure you've seen a lot of people come and go. Some people get interested in an exercise program, and then two weeks later they have forgotten all about it. While other people, get started with a program and five years later they are still doing it getting better and stronger all the time.

Do you have any advice for busy people with a lot of distractions to help them stick to a Pilates for back pain exercise routine?

I will remind people how much time, money, and effort it takes to be in pain. Time off from work and other activities, doctor's appointments, medications, and different therapies all add up. In literally 30 minutes at least 2-3 times a week you can actually make enough change in your body to be stronger, more flexible, and in less pain. Who wouldn't want that? To me it is a simple cost v. benefit analysis. It costs less in terms of time, money, and effort to do 30 minutes of proper exercise a few times per week and live with less pain.

2. Many of our visitors don't have gym memberships or exercise equipment, but they are interested in Pilates for back pain and ways that they can exercise to help manage their pain.

When trying to exercise without an instructor are they at risk for injuring themselves? Or, are there Pilates for back pain exercises that they could do at home?

As long as you keep your exercises simple and focus on stabilizing your back there shouldn't be too much risk of injury. So many people tell me that the exercises in my books and audios are just too simple to be effective, but in my experience it is precisely this basic strength that most people are lacking. Exercise is definitely a case of KISS (Keep It Simple), especially when one has chronic pain.

3. I know you have written several articles about osteoporosis and exercise with much good advice about managing osteoporosis.

But what about osteoporosis and Pilates? With a new student who is interested in Pilates for back pain do you ask about their bone density? How do you determine which exercises somebody with osteopenia can do without risking injury?

I always find out about bone density before working with anyone. My article on Pilates and Osteoporosis is full of basic Dos and Don'ts for low bone density. Most Pilates exercises need some modification, but the ones in my ebooks are safe for any bone density. I am actually working on an audio and ebook of Pilates for Osteoporosis as my next project.

4. I know pilates kind of has a reputation as being for girls, with girlie little exercises to tone your muscles and control your weight, but I've read comments on your blog from men saying that the exercises can be tough and really do give you an effective workout.

But, if someone wants to be a bodybuilder and build bulging muscles, is there a pilates work out for them? Or is that really a different discipline?

I am not quite sure how the girlie thing happened, since Joseph Pilates was a very gruff German man who created his system for fellow German prisoners who were interned by the British during all of WWI as enemy aliens. Now, bodybuilding is a very specific sport which is a sub-section of weight training, and Pilates and body building are NOT the same. Bodybuilding is not necessarily functional fitness, but exercise specifically put together to build muscle size. However, several competitive bodybuilders do Pilates as part of their workout routines to maintain flexibility, build definition in smaller muscles that heavy weights do not always hit, and maintain functional core strength. They are different disciplines that can complement one another.

5. I know you have been teaching Pilates and Pilates for back pain for more than 20 years but I was still very impressed when I read all of the articles are written about the history of Pilates. You must be somewhat of a history buff. What other things are you interested in? How do you like to spend your time when you're not teaching Pilates or blogging about Pilates or working on your websites?

I love to read history, "chick lit" novels, and lots of books on fitness, reiki, different forms of healing, and fitness. I also knit and crochet, cook and bake, and love to walk my dog. And we love to watch movies of all sorts from silly comedies like The Hangover to Tarantino films (we loved Inglorious Basterds) and action/sci fi movies.

6. Speaking of the history of Pilates, are you still teaching the same exercises and techniques that Joseph Pilates taught? Or has the Pilates for back pain method evolved over the years?

While there has been some evolution of the method, I still teach pretty classical Pilates. There are enough archival materials, including videos and books, to have a good sense of what Joseph Pilates taught as Contrology and the fact is that it works! My back and neck pain exercises are a mix of fundamental movements that were created by his students such as Eve Gentry and Kathy Grant along with modified and classical Pilates exercises to create a safe functional routine for home use.

7. A philosophy professor and teaching Pilates and practicing and teaching Reiki brings together some very interesting intellectual, physical, and holistic disciplines.

What does your intellectual and holistic training bring to your Pilates classes?

I always joke that if you can explain Kant's categorical imperative to a group of bored undergraduates you can teach just about anything. But really, I try to give people not only an exercise class or program but the reasons why it works and why it may be better for their bodies than what they have been doing. This has made me a stronger teacher not just for clients, but also as a teacher of teachers (I have been doing Pilates teacher training for over a decade and Reiki training for the last 4 years. Basically, I love to teach and to help people understand what they are doing and why it is important. I love my job!


Well Lynda, your love of your job certainly shows through, and you also show a lot of insight into what it takes to help people understand why they are doing what they are doing.

We want to thank Lynda Lippin again for taking the time to share her thoughts and knowledge with all of us. We hope that she has given you some insight into the world of Pilates for back pain, and inspired you to get started today.

Be sure to check out Lynda's web sites and blogs. They are loaded with great ideas and inspiration to get your exercise program started. If you happen to be drifting about the Caribbean, give Lynda a call, and check out one of her Pilates Retreats.

Learn more from Lynda at:

Pilates Goddess

Reiki Goddess

Return to Words of Wisdom from Pilates for Back Pain

Return to Living with Back Pain



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