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Pilates will… Help Reduce Back Pain
Your lower back regularly aches after a long day at work, so after a month or so you visit a physiotherapist and the recommendation is? Try Pilates. You have two young kids and your days are spent chasing after them, picking up toys, playing on the floor, and rocking them to sleep. Your back is sore and you just don’t feel as strong as you once did. You Google what to do and the results say? Try Pilates!
There’s a reason Pilates is the go-to answer for back pain. According to a study published in the October 2021 issue of the Journal of Physiotherapy, a review found evidence that Pilates is one of the most effective types of exercise treatment for reducing low back pain intensity and functional limitations. While exercise is routinely recommended for individuals suffering from chronic low back pain, it turns out that some types of exercise are actually better than others at lessening pain and improving functionality.
Pilates is associated with building core strength, but what exactly does that mean? Pilates exercises develop a strong powerhouse or centre of the body–the deep abdominal muscles along with the muscles closest to the spine. Control of the core is achieved by integrating the trunk, pelvis and shoulder girdle. Pilates also includes a mind-body element–maintaining mental focus on the physical movements being performed, which stresses the quality of movement over the quantity. Conventional workouts tend to work the same muscles repeatedly, which can lead weak muscles to get weaker and strong muscles to get stronger. This can result in muscular imbalance, a primary cause of chronic back pain. Pilates emphasises whole body conditioning, balancing strength and flexibility.
So how can Pilates exercises be used to strengthen your body, improve posture and mobility, and alleviate back pain?
The Pilates repertoire uniquely focuses on both building strength and stability, and increasing flexibility. When we are deconditioned or injured, we may be limited to basic movements–simple choreography, less resistance, and certain planes of motion–but as we develop strength, create better body awareness, and increase mobility in our spine or joints, we can move into different shapes, play with resistance and load, and add more complex choreography. The source of back pain can be any number of things–for example, tight or weak muscles can limit mobility. Repetitive patterns of movement–like how we sit at our desks, look at our phones, or carry an infant–can influence posture and alignment, which may cause imbalances. And chronic injuries or conditions that limit mobility in the hips, shoulders, or other joints can also show up as back pain. Through targeted exercises and a consistent mindful movement practice, strength and flexibility will improve and balance in the body can be restored. The wonderful ripple effect is that as pain diminishes, it’s only natural that we become more active in all areas of our lives. In Joseph Pilates’ own words: “Change happens through movement and movement heals.”
Join us in class and follow us on social media throughout the month of March for more exercises, tips, and information on how Pilates can and will improve back pain.
Retrofit Master Instructor
Lead Instructor/Operations Associate