Get on Your Pilates Exercise Mat for Back Pain ReliefUsing Pilates Exercises with my clients has absolutely transformed my Physiotherapy practice. However, although I believe Pilates is a critical aspect of back pain rehabilitation, it is only useful if you are taught correctly and are doing the appropriate Pilates routine for your specific back condition.
Quite often I encounter clients who inform me that Pilates has worsened their back pain. There are two main reasons for this:
Always seek professional help, preferably doing your Pilates exercises under the instruction of a physiotherapist/Phsical Therapist.
One thing that I have noticed over the past 16 years is that most people with back and neck pain have both "poor posture" and poor "core muscle function". However, sometimes back pain patients have a good core muscle system but they are using it inefficiently to support a poor postural alignment. With some simple postural correction and advice these clients do well quickly as the core system is effectively in place but just needs some fine tuning.
I am often asked: "Are core strength exercises and Pilates exercises the same thing?"
No, to put it quite simply! However, you could call them first cousins! Pilates is always performed under low load until your core strength is strong enough to combine low load performance with high load performance on top. What I mean by this is that we have two muscle systems in our core:
We need both systems to be able to work independently of each other as well as together. Pilates focuses initially on the low load system, and then when you are ready it progresses to combining both systems working efficiently together. If you use the stronger muscles first without having the lower load core muscles working behind the scene, you can cause further muscle imbalance and potential back pain over time. So, technique in Pilates is crucial to your back care and small classes of no more than ten are a priority to ensure you are being taught well.
Pilates is a core strength training programme that teaches you to use your core muscles efficiently. It teaches you the correct position for all your body parts as well as training your muscles over time to hold your body parts in their correct position effectively, automatically and with ease. Postural changes will be noticeable after 8 weeks if you are taught well, and body structure will change gradually from then on. Usually people see and feel changes from 16 weeks on but "real" changes happen if you stick at it for a year. After that you wont be able to give up as you will miss it too much!
I have seven classes of 10 people who have been with me for 8 years now give or take a term! So, what are you waiting for? Now, let's have a look at a number of aspects of Pilates Exercises - and how they might help you with your back pain relief and management:
Joseph Pilates developed Pilates exercises in the 1920s as a result of suffering from ill health and back pain himself. He devised a unique sequence of movements that worked the mind and muscles in harmony. It worked for him and it continues to work for us! So give it a go!
Read more on the History and Benefits of Pilates.
There are many Pilates exercises, but I have a few favourites! Try the shoulder bridge where you curl up onto your upper spine and down again. It is great for relieving tension in your spine and strengthens your tummy well over time.
Read more on Pilates Sample Exercises.
From my experience the most important Pilates equipment is your teacher! If your teacher is good you and your body will do a good job and you may never require anything further. On a weekly basis I use the Pilates Circle, which assists in increasing the work of your arms and legs as well helping all your bodys muscles to work together. It is a resistance circle that you squeeze between your arms and legs to help them to work harder.
Soft weights are great. These are soft weighted balls that I use in your hands to increase the load through your arms to your core.
Foam rollers are long sausage type rolls that I use to improve your balance as well as your core. It provides you with an unsteady base from which your core is challenged. It is challenging!
Stability balls are inflatable balls used to challenge your balance and core strength. They are great for a change and I use them all the time!
Reformers are a piece of resistance equipment used to help you on your way. I dont use them - so no comment!
Stability chairs are used to help you challenge the range and strength of your body. I don?t use them - so no comment!
Other equipment is available - I dont use them - but will let you know as a when I test new pieces of useful equipment.
Read more on Pilates Equipment.
There are many different types of Pilates classes available all over the world. My advice is to choose small classes, with instructors who have done more than two days training! If you have severe back pain attend a class led by a Physiotherapist/Physical Therapist.
Read more on selecting a Pilates Class.
There are so many DVDs and books available on Pilates exercises today. The important thing is to read exercises and instructions written by a well-informed and qualified Pilates instructor. Do your research before you embark on THEIR proposed journey.
More to come here on Pilates DVDs and Books.
Pilates during pregnancy is fantastic. It is even more fantastic if you have been doing Pilates for some time before you become pregnant! It helps your core, your figure, your breathing, your birth process, your back pain, your posture and your mental health! I cant recommend it enough, once it is taught by a well-qualified Pilates instructor.
Read more on Pilates during pregnancy.
I love and hate being asked this question all at the same time! Both Pilates and Yoga are great. They both serve some shared benefits, and each has individual benefits different to each other. So, before you embark on yoga or Pilates do your research and get professional advice on which would be better for your back or neck pain. Neither yoga or Pilates will be appropriate for some back problems. In fact, they could be doing more harm than good. Good Luck!
Read more on Yoga vs Pilates.
There are many ways of becoming a Pilates instructor. There are also many different forms of Pilates training methods around the world. Unfortunately, I believe that there are not enough good "barriers" to becoming a Pilates instructor. To be a good Pilates instructor requires both time and medical/anatomical knowledge.
Read more on Becoming a Pilates Instructor.
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The information on this web site does not replace specific medical advice. It should only be used to complement advice from your doctor. Always seek in-person advice from a doctor or other qualified health provider for your particular condition.