Pilates and Back Pain

Pilates is the best program a person can learn and use to manage their own body and control their aches and stiffness to prevent back pain.

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The Most Common Reason for Back Pain

At Bright Star PT, we see hundreds of people with lower back problems. Many present with a long history of niggling aches and stiffness in the morning. The reason for their back pain in their mind is fatigue and overwork. They are most likely right. The management of this mild inconvenience is neglected, because it has not interfered with their daily lives yet. Over time the stiffness in the morning increases and takes longer to relieve. A person may well take a drug for relief. Again this works for a period of time too.

The pattern of this presentation is very common. The reason for the back pain does not change therefore the pain becomes more often and usually stronger. People have busy lives and many have a reasonably high tolerance, this is a problem in itself.

So What is the Reason for the Back Pain?

In this presentation the reason is a slow loss of movement in the spinal joints and a slow loss of length in the muscles. As pain creeps in the deep core muscles start to weaken as well. This is called pain inhibition of the core. This is where Pilates will benefit back pain.  Back pain in a person with no injury or trauma is due to a slow change in the balance of all the working muscles. The cure is simple, if it is managed early. It is like many diseases – if it is caught early then the cure is usually much easier to achieve.

The Different Types of Back Pain People Suffer

Lower back pain can come from different structures in the lower back.
505361_hot_stone_massage_1Joint pain is usually sharp and stops a person moving through it, usually worse when weight bearing.

Muscle pain feels like a deep ache and usually eases with movement and once you have warmed up.

Inflammatory pain: all of the structures can become inflamed and cause a lot of pain and stiffness in the morning. It can also keep you awake at night.

Disc pain: We treat all musculoskeletal pain as disc pain until proven otherwise. Pain increases with sitting, coughing, sneezing and usually stops a person from standing upright.

Deep lower back pain is usually referred from another organ such as the uterus or
kidney, but can also be local.

All presentations of lower back problems must be assessed properly and a history must also be discussed. In some cases back pain may well be the first sign of something nasty. This is not the norm though.

Pilates and Back Pain

Pilates is the best program a person can learn and live with to manage their own body and control their aches and stiffness. Pilates is the name given to the training of the Transverse Abdominal muscle. It has been marketed to be much more. The action of this muscle is to support the spinal joints and promote the action of the postural muscles. It has many more functions as well but to control the spine is the ultimate function. So by training this muscle individually and then learning how to use it in every way you move, you can stabilize your lumbar spine and stop the micro trauma it suffers with every unstable movement. This will lead to pain relief, eventually. The cure will come by following the principles of core stability, stretching and and not allowing the joints and muscles to become stressed through neglect.

For more information, visit our website, or better yet, come in for a free consultation for a specialized assessment of your unique issues.

[massage photo credit: Ronald Schuster via sxc.hu]

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