Over the past few decades, back pain has become one of the most common medical problems, affecting 8 out of 10 people at some point during their lives.
Pilates for Back Care
It is almost impossible to say exactly why some people get back pain and some don’t and why some suffer more than others with pain; though it has become universally understood that there are many common factors that contribute to pain, injury or bad posture.
Sedentary lifestyles, sitting for long periods or having a job or sport that limits or over uses certain muscle groups or movements patterns, can all lead to tight or weak muscles (often both), repetitive strains, imbalanced muscles and of course pain and injury.
Stress is most certainly another factor. We know that psychological, work/family stress and even social factors play an important role in how we feel and how much strain and tension our body is put through on a daily basis.
Though there are many other forms of complementary treatments available for back care, regular exercise is now a medically recognized form of treatment, with the Pilates method leading the way. Many Physiotherapists use Pilates techniques and exercises in their treatment for back care.
Exercise is also a great way of increasing energy and relieving stress, helping to improve not just your physical health, but also your mental health.
Why Pilates helps
Pilates is about strengthening your body via the support of your core and control of your movements.
Through years of extensive research, there has been much evidence to suggest the ‘tried and tested’ method of Pilates vastly helps to prevent and/or improve symptoms of back pain through precise engagement, strength and flexibility exercises.
Pilates has been adapted and in many respects modified over the past few decades, to make it safer and more accessible for people of all ages and physical backgrounds.
The benefits of Pilates – Keeping it strong and mobile
The Pilates principles of alignment, core stability and controlled movement,
are all aimed at strengthening the back, mobilising the spine and improving the posture.
One of the basic fundamentals in Pilates is learning to understand, find and maintain the neutral position of the hips and lower spine while performing exercises (see our blog on Understanding the lower back and hip alignment). This concept alone can offer huge rewards in the way of core stability and support of your back muscles.
Flexibility of the spine is another important point. Stiffness leads to bad movement and weak muscles. The majority of Pilates exercises focus on mobilising the spine, hips and shoulders, which all impact your posture. Improving mobility and flexibility helps to relieve pressure and tension on the lower back.
A lifestyle choice
Keeping your back strong, mobile and healthy is a lifestyle choice.
It doesn’t have to be hard work or take too long either. If you aren’t able to attend regular Pilates classes, you can still make a positive impact by learning and introducing a few simple Pilates techniques and exercises into your daily routine, it really can make all the difference.
Remember – It isn’t so much Practice makes Perfect, more a case of Practice makes Permanent.
Certified Pilates teachers have extensive knowledge of the body and how to assess it through posture, movement or muscles activation.
Many teachers have had years of experience, worked with or researched a range of different injures and conditions, and can give support and advise or offer a range of muscle engagement or movement based solutions to help support back care.
Regardless of this, it is important to know, Pilates teachers are not medically trained. If you do suffer with any chronic or long-term pain or injury, it is important to seek medical advise from a physio, osteopath or such like, before you begin or continue with the Pilates method.