Back Pain and Spas: Hydrotherapy, Pilates, Yoga

Do you only think of spas as places the rich and famous go for body treatments designed to make them look younger? Think that no more! Today, spas offer people a wide variety of services, many of which can be very beneficial to the health of your spine. If you have never visited a spa, look for one in your area that offers the following:
Woman in a hydrotherapy sessionGentle water exercises using the resistance of the water can help build strength and flexibility. Photo Source:

Water Therapy

Hydrotherapy is probably one of the oldest forms of therapy around. Whirlpools, water spas, swimming pools, and even the bathtub are all forms of hydrotherapy.

Water temperature and the speed at which the water moves can help relax tense muscles and relieve swelling (inflammation) and pain. Gentle water exercises using the resistance of the water can also help build strength and flexibility. Just a few minutes of water therapy can do wonders for an occasional bout of back pain.

Hydrotherapy or exercise in water has a long history of use as a treatment for musculoskeletal conditions. Two randomized control trials have evaluated hydrotherapy for chronic low back pain; both found no difference between hydrotherapy and the control treatment. Additional randomized control studies need to be performed to determine the effectiveness of hydrotherapy for low back pain and improvement in general health. However, hydrotherapy currently remains an attractive treatment modality for low back pain to improve aerobic conditioning and initiate spinal stabilizing efforts.


While Pilates has been for around a long time, today it is receiving renewed attention. Pilates is a low-impact form of exercise that focuses on building a strong body core. Pilates can help to increase spinal range of motion, strengthen abdominal and back muscles, and increase general flexibility. Each exacting Pilates' movement includes the effective use of breathing patterns. This form of exercise is often recommended for people with certain spinal conditions because of its focus on flexibility of the spine and its attention to correct posture. Consult your physician first before initiating a new exercise program, especially if you have had problems with your back.

Exercise may be one of the few effective treatment options to manage chronic low back pain. Many systematic reviews of exercise have concluded that exercise is an effective therapy for chronic low back pain. Yet, the optimal way to implement this treatment is unknown. Pilates is one option to implement exercise effectively and further investigations via randomized control trials are needed.


Yoga is an exercise program that includes gentle stretching, controlled breathing, focused concentration, and meditation. Like Pilates, yoga can be helpful for people who need to increase their flexibility and endurance without the stress on the body of high-impact exercise. Keep in mind, Yoga is not for everyone, so talk to your physician before starting this type of exercise program.

Yoga might be another way to implement exercise and stretching as way of treating chronic low back pain and improve general health. Further, investigation is needed, however anecdotal evidence that yoga is effective in improving flexibility and self-awareness.

Concluding Thoughts

As you can see, a visit to the spa can be very beneficial to people with certain back problems. Of course, you should talk to your physician before starting any new therapy to be sure it will not make your condition worse.

Caution: Yoga poses that involve simultaneous bending and twisting movement is not recommended for everyone with a back or neck problem. Please talk with your doctor before including yoga movements that blend bending and twisting movements (eg, triangle pose, spine twist).

Updated on: 09/17/19
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