Pilates and Back Pain… Because Back Pain is no Joke!

Numbers related to how many people suffer from back pain are staggering, one in three people ! I personally suffered for years, and can empathize with how debilitating and frustrating back pain can be. Throughout my own journey and looking at the research done into the pain cycle, it is clear there is far more to pain management than reaching for medication.

By looking at the three elements below, which are interlinked and interrelated elements to back pain, you have a far greater chance of eliminating the cycle of pain.

Structure, Alignment and Posture

First, take a look at the bio-mechanics behind pain – your body’s structure, alignment, and posture. Address the body imbalances that are creating dysfunctional movement and stress on the body, resulting in pain. Self-massage, foam rolling, and muscle release balls get the blood flow going and stretch the muscles, so adding this is to your day is most beneficial.

Find the right exercise for you. We are made to move! Daily movement and breaking the cycle of sitting is crucial. Sitting and modern technology has produced an epidemic of forward head posture and an array of neck, shoulder, back and hip pain. For example, progressive extension needs to be put back into our movement as we spend too much time as a society in this forward flexion. Do what you can to improve posture and flexibility and you’ll also be minimizing back pain.

Diet and Nutrition

Next, look at what you’re eating. Does your diet contain foods that cause inflammation? When inflammation becomes chronic, it can trigger not only a host of serious diseases, but also contributing factors of pain, arthritis, and tendonitis, as well as a slower healing process. Typical inflammatory products include alcohol,’ junk food’, soft drinks, saturated fats, processed foods, high fat animal products, high sodium foods, high calorie foods, too much sugar and refined carbs.

Emotional State

Finally, think about how stress you have, emotional & physical. Stress leads to tension throughout the body, which can be one of the top causes of back pain. Find a way to minimize the stress in your life, or finding ways of managing it to a more suitable level, you will feel more emotionally balanced, and physically comfortable.

Address all three of these areas to start healing your body and you will be surprised by the results you encounter. There is no ‘Magic Pill’ to swallow when it comes to chronic back pain. Instead, it’s about learning to manage your body differently.

How Can Pilates Help?

It is widely recognized that Pilates and other core strengthening exercises can help reduce the symptoms of some back pain. In fact, Pilates is gaining quite the reputation as an effective rehabilitation regime. However, signing up to a local class or doing a workout at home may be inadvisable if you have spinal stenosis and back pain, for example. Pushing your body too far and too fast can have dire consequences, so make sure you know how to use Pilates for back pain safely and effectively.

Working as a Pilates instructor I am often in a post-rehab situation with a client, transitioning out of a pain cycle and into a more active lifestyle. I have the opportunity to bridge the gap between someone recently discharged from physical therapy into a fitness routine that will allow them to be more mobile and independent again.

To start, it is of paramount importance to ensure I take the client through a basic routine of Pilates exercises, the principles and the surprisingly small techniques that will potentially benefit them by manifesting into their daily lifestyle.

Instilling these fundamental basics first and foremost allows for the oh so important mind / body connection to develop through breathing and the identification of core muscles for strengthening, as well as to work at stopping or decreasing the pain cycle. After building this connection and the client has gotten stronger, we can then progress into a more difficult routine. .

It can be incredibly effective to use Pilates for back pain relief, but check with your physician prior to doing any new exercises, particularly when you have spinal stenosis.

If you would like to discuss in more detail your pain management through Pilates, please email: info@coresandeffectpilates.ca

Note: Stenosis means the abnormal narrowing of a body channel. When combined with the word spinal, it defines a narrowing of the bone channel occupied by the spinal nerves or the spinal cord. While the narrowing may occur at different parts of the spine, the symptoms of nerve compression are often similar.