What is Pilates ?
Pilates is an exercise approach that focuses on building mind-body awareness, strength, balance, control and flexibility. It is a great exercise method for back pain.Two broad forms of Pilates, include:
· Mat – does not require much equipment, though may involve props such as a Pilates block, magic circle, TheraBand, swiss ball
· Reformer – a bed-like platform with springs to add resistance or support to exercises
Why is Pilates good for back pain?
Backs love to move! Yes, when we are in pain that comfortable range of movement may decrease, but commonly the first thing your physiotherapist will get you doing is some gentle movement for the back through your comfortable range of movement.
Pilates can be a great form of exercise where the load (or intensity of how much the muscles need to work) can be scaled back to an appropriate level according to symptoms.
Oftentimes with back pain, there tends to be an “overactivity” of the back muscles – they just want to be super-helpful and contribute to every…. single…. movement.
Whereas other muscles, such as abdominals and glutes, can get a bit lazy. When we have a muscle group doing all the work all the time…it is bound to get a little cranky (most of us have experienced that group project where you do all the work – it’s not fun).
Therefore, your physiotherapist will often prescribe exercises that are aimed at recruiting these lazy muscles, to help share the work around a bit more, and offload the overworked back muscles to help keep them a bit happier. Exercises aiming for precise control and correct activation align with the philosophy and practice of Pilates, as it is great for improving body awareness and motor control (i.e. developing a focus for turning on the right muscles for the movement we are wanting to perform). Therefore, Pilates can be a great form of exercise to help with your rehab!
If you would like to learn more about other strategies we use to help treat low back pain at Barefoot – see here.
How can your physiotherapist help you with Pilates and your back pain?
If participating in Pilates is something you would like to do,
- Your physiotherapist will assess abdominal and glute activation patterns, helping you to identify the appropriate level of challenge …. so you know what to look out for (i.e. indications that your muscles are fatiguing and falling into their old habits again)
- Often we will recommend 1:1 or small group classes where you are able to be more closely monitored by your instructor
- Your physiotherapist will be able to provide you with key cues that work best for you, to be able to integrate into your Pilates classes
- We love to communicate with all members of your healthcare team …. that includes your Pilates instructors. With your permission, we are able to provide them updates regarding your care, best cues, and specific areas we want to take care of during exercise
If you are currently participating in Pilates, or keen to give it a go, the team at Barefoot would love to see you and help personalise exercises and advice to get you living your best Barefoot lifestyle. Feel free to call us on 1300 842 850 or book online to get started today.