8 out of 10 people will experience back pain in the next 12 months. The stats are staggering and as one of those statistics, I know first hand how debilitating pain can be. It slows you down, prevents you from having fun, makes it hard to put your undies on and can be physically and psychologically harmful.
My relationship with back pain is long and tiring. I can remember having pain since I was a teenager and I was constantly on somebody’s table trying to fix it. I was doing all the right things, exercising, therapy, good diet and overall healthy lifestyle.
One night of dancing in heels could set me back for days, sending me into a downward spiral that discouraged me from having fun when the price paid was way too steep. Some days I’d come up with the lamest excuses not to socialise because I just couldn't deal with the pain that would ensue.
As I step through my 40’s, my back is stronger and healthier than I ever imagined possible. While my friends are starting to recognise the effects of their 40’s, my body is capable, and my spine is flexible and stable.
Here’s 5 ways that Pilates changed my life to a healthier, happier spine:
Your first Pilates class will change the way you see yourself. It will create greater self awareness by talking you through the intricacies of better movement patterns. How you are standing and sitting, how you are moving and how your postural habits affect you. I remember vividly my first Pilates class. I walked in thinking I was a good mover. I thought I was strong, capable and powerful (even though I was constantly in pain). Pilates taught me very quickly where my body was in space, how I was standing and sitting incorrectly and what good posture actually felt like. After my first class I was able to walk away and practice these good habits because I had more a awareness of what I was doing and how to correct it… and I felt lighter, and taller after that first session!
Everyone has heard how Pilates improves your core. The fact is, Pilates will improve your whole body tone from the inside out. It actually does this by improving joint placement and function in every exercise. Your core is one part of your Pilates journey and it is the basis of good movement. Your core may be weak due to poor posture, poor movement patterns or because your core muscles are inhibited by pain - who ever knew that?. With that in mind, your core will get stronger simply by moving better, moving with an educated intention and understanding how to execute movements properly.
Whether at work or play, many of us are performing repetitive movements. Sitting at a desk, bricking a wall, swinging a golf club, running track. Repetitive movement means doing the same thing over and over and over again. Take running for example. Runners have inherently strong quads (front of legs) and strong calves and strong obliques. So, to become a better runner, Pilates will work on the strength of the other other lower limb muscles including gluteus (butt), hamstrings, deep core, inner thighs. The key to better function and improved performance is in cross training. And that applies to repetitive movement in sporting pursuits or sedentary positions such as desk working folks who need to improve postural strength to stop them slouching.
Depending on your body you may be too flexible or too tight. Pilates takes this in to account and will improve on what it is that you are lacking. If you are too lax in some parts, we will work on strength and stability. If you are too inflexible, we will work on length and mobility. In Pilates we call this perfect balance tensegrity - good tension + good flexibility = good integrity. Sounds like the perfect marriage right?
Many of us struggle with good posture because a-lot of what we do encourages poor habits. Joseph Pilates once said “sitting will be the death of us”. We sit at work, we sit in the car, we sit at the dinner table and we sit in front of the TV. So, the key is to get up and move. Sitting is not our friend, but our lifestyle encourages it every single day. Pilates is multi directional. It will get you standing, laying down on your belly, back and side, have you twisting and turning, breathing and growing. Look at kids in the playground and how they move like monkeys in the trees. Pilates teaches better posture because it encourages you to move in all directions, in multiple positions, layering the movement to teach you how to do it well and support your body successfully.
Pilates has changed my life for the better. And every day I see Pilates change other peoples lives in miraculous ways. Good movement is a powerful tool and Pilates is healing for the body, mind and soul. Living with less pain or pain free was a dream that I never believed could be a reality and today that pain is the memory that drives me to share my knowledge with those who seek help.
If you are looking for ways to manage pain contact us today and start your journey with an initial assessment.