Back Pain is one of the most common health complaints to affect adults in the UK today, and while many of us rely on pain relief medicines like codeine to ease the symptoms and help us lead a normal happy life, studies have found that regular Pilates Classes could be just as effective as regular over-the-counter painkillers when back pain strikes.
What is Pilates?
Pilates is a form of exercise specifically designed to improve flexibility, posture, mental awareness, and core strength. Developed by Joseph Pilates, a German-born gymnast and physical fitness enthusiast, it was first taught in the United States in 1920 when Pilates immigrated to New York, and has since gone on to be one of the most popular fitness classes in the world.
During a Pilates Class, students are encouraged to focus on both the body and the mind as they perform a sequence of movements using body weight, gravity, and special apparatus such as pulleys, straps and springs as forms of resistance. A total conditioning program that improves muscle tone and posture, and trains deep abdominal muscles and those muscles closest to the spine, pilates strengthens the whole body, and as the exercises are gentle and paced, everyone can take part in this exercise regime.
Pilates and Back Pain
One of the most common causes of back pain is a sedentary lifestyle. People that sit at a computer or workstation all day are far more likely to suffer from a back related condition, and while we can reduce the impact by moving regularly, sitting up straight, and supporting our backs with a cushion, the best way to limit pressure on the back is by strengthening the core from within.
As a muscle strengthening activity, Pilates can provide relief for those suffering with non-specific back pain by reinforcing the core with strong, toned muscles. When the spine is supported by its surrounding muscles, is it less susceptible to strain, and as such, those who regularly participate in pilates classes can prevent reoccurring conditions, and in some cases, put an end to back pain altogether.
Pilates vs. Painkillers
While pilates is, undoubtedly, highly effective at strengthening the core, it is not suitable for all types of back pain and so it is advisable to speak to your health care practitioner before taking your first class. As your back will be fragile during your first few lessons, it is important that you listen to your teacher, start slowly, and gradually build up to more demanding exercises as the week’s progress.
As your posture and core strength improves, the severity of your back pain should diminish, and by continuing with at least one or two pilates classes each week, you could keep your back pain at bay for good.
Pilates is a long-term solution for back pain and not a quick fix like painkillers. You may find that you still need to take pain relief medicines when taking pilates classes, especially if they have been prescribed by your doctor, but as your core strength improves, your dependence on painkillers will lessen, and you could be pain and drug free in just a few weeks.
Pilates has already help thousands of people put an end to long-term back pain, proving that an active lifestyle really can improve all types of pain. Combine that with a healthy diet and regular exercise, and you can expect a pain-free 2016.