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Does Pilates Help Chronic Back Pain?

School Of Pilates Posted Sep 20, 2016 Future Fit Training


Chronic back pain is an orthopedic condition that affects millions of lives around the world.

Does Pilates Help Chronic Back Pain?

Back pain can occur from postural habits such as slouching or from accidents that cause injury to the spine or muscles of the back. It is important to not let back pain take a “back” seat and decrease the quality of life. The Pilates method is often used to actively address back pain by correcting postural and muscular imbalances. Pilates teachers can learn how to develop specialist skills to address orthopedic issues in this online e-learning course.

Will Pilates help back pain?

The answer is yes, but only if the right exercises are performed correctly.  People are often referred to Pilates whether they live active or sedentary lifestyles. It is possible whatever exercise they have tried to alleviate their back pain has not worked because it is either not addressing the issues at hand or is completely inappropriate for their condition. Therefore, the kind of Pilates exercises necessary will completely depend upon what kind of back pain is occurring.

Pilates teacher training

When you take the Future Fit Training Specialist Diploma in Mat Pilates, you will study specialist courses to ensure that you have the skills and knowledge to teach clients with common orthopedic problems, as well as other special populations including pre and postnatal women. Furthermore, for those considering taking their exercise and Pilates career further, the Level 4 Exercise Specialist Diploma will enable you to become highly qualified and take GP exercise referrals for clients with common health problems including low back pain, diabeties, high blood pressure and so on. 

Get a medical diagnosis before you start

It is important to have a correct diagnosis before starting a Pilates exercise plan. This helps to facilitate the rehabilitation necessary to improve back pain. Bad postural habits are the most common causes of tension in the back. The conditions vary and generally correlate to the curves in the spine and surrounding muscles. The areas in your spine include the upper spine (cervical/neck and thoracic/middle back) and lower spine (lumbar/lower back). It is possible to have a combination of 2 or 3 issues in any area of your back. Pilates can only assist with back pain if a proper evaluation is made so that the exercises do not aggravate the condition.

Pilates can help some common postural imbalances

There are some common postural imbalances that Pilates can help to correct. Lumbar lordosis is an excessive curve in the lower spine which can cause back pain. Thoracic kyphosis is an excessive curve in the thoracic spine which can cause slouched shoulders. Scoliosis is another spinal condition where the spine deviates to the side making an S-curve. All of these can be painful conditions.

Pilates can improve your overall spinal health

Pilates works by lengthening and strengthening muscles. It is a system that combines flexibility and muscle development with conscious awareness using the breath. The basic principles of Pilates support overall spinal health, with many of the exercises designed to strengthen the center of the body. This central area is called the “Powerhouse” in Pilates. It includes the abdominal muscles, low back muscles, gluteal muscles, the pelvic floor, and the muscles in the hips. Each exercise in Pilates begins from this area. Strengthening the Powerhouse creates a stable and stronger back, therefore decreasing injury and pain. When the Powerhouse is strong, the spine is braced and the discs are protected with the support of the musculature.

Identify specific problems before you start Pilates training

Learn to identify specific musculoskeletal problems that cause common back problems and how to address them through Pilates in an online learning course. It is important to be familiar with the Pilates exercises and what muscles they use so that re-injury does not occur. For example, there are certain precautions that need to be taken when someone has scoliosis. It is possible to modify exercises and some may need to be avoided completely. No one should be in a compromising position when practicing Pilates.

Align breath with movement

Pilates exercises focus on connecting the breath to the abdominals. During an exhalation, the belly muscles naturally contract toward the spine. During inhalation, the abdominals naturally expand. Pilates utilizes the natural contraction of the abdominals during exhalation to create one of the most commonly used images, the abdominal scoop. Also, when learning Pilates, instead of allowing the belly to puff outward on the inhalation, the navel is drawn inward, toward the spine, continuing to work on the abdominal scoop method. This method tones the center of the body and massages the back muscles.

Another concept in Pilates is the neutral spine. The spine is neutral when the curves of the spine are in good alignment with one another. A neutral spine is the best place for movement to come from, and also supports the body when seated. If the spine is not in neutral, most often there is an anterior or posterior tilt to the pelvis, affecting the lumbar spine. This can be corrected through proper use of the abdominal muscles.

It is important that clients choose teachers who can assign and modify particular Pilates exercises for back conditions. When the proper exercises are performed, Pilates can improve the strength, flexibility, and stability around particular joints. Additionally, it is important to note which Pilates exercises should be avoided. In depth anatomy information and descriptions of specific joint problems are assessed in this online continuing education course for Pilates teachers. Upon completion of this course, instructors will be able to assist physiotherapists and integrate this knowledge into their teaching. Many students of Pilates enjoy the benefits so much that they go on to train as a Pilates teacher and pass the benefits on to other.  Find out more about becoming a Pilates teacher here.

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