After living with chronic back pain for years, I tried Pilates to help ease the pain. It worked wonders. I had a conversion experience and became a Pilates instructor, proselytizing the benefits of neutral spine and a strong core. Looks like science is backing me (pun intended) on this — research out of Canada found that a Pilates program helped decrease low back pain significantly more than using typical medical treatment. The Pilates equipment-based therapy not only decreased pain, it improved daily functionality as well. When following up a year later, which is important when dealing with chronic back problems, the Pilates participants had maintained their physical improvements.
The Pilates method teaches spinal stabilization while safely increasing spinal flexibility. Plus, it is an excellent form of strength training. I believe wholeheartedly that working with a certified Pilates practitioner is the way to go if you are trying to get out of pain. Although the private sessions are expensive, the payoff is great: less pain and more strength. Once you learn how to engage those deep abs and work your core, there is no going back to back pain.