How Pilates exercises can help you get your life ‘back’ (no pun intended)
Chat to any of our BASI Pilates teachers and they will tell you how simple Pilates exercises changed the lives of their students struggling with back pain. In today’s culture with technological advances creating a more sedentary lifestyle, poor postures and weakened muscles due to inactivity are some of the most common causes of back pain. Pilates exercises can help to relieve the pain and heal the problematic area, or better yet, can even help to prevent back pain altogether!
During your Pilates class, your teacher will often remind you to engage your core. Engaging your core muscles not only prevents injury while exercising, it also strengthens them. Your core muscles provide support to your back muscles and spine, creating more stability and less strain on your back.
Pilates exercises teach both stability and flexibility. Having more flexibility in your back muscles can allow you to move with ease. It also helps to stretch out the back muscles, which can become tight from slouching in front of a tv or hunching over a computer. Gentle stretches, such as moving through the cat and cow postures, pelvic tilts, or slow supine (laying on your back) spinal twists can significantly relieve back pain.
Improving posture and alignment is one of the most important ways to prevent and heal back pain. Focusing on how your body is moving and being aware of your alignment during your Pilates class helps to improve your posture. Pilates teaches you to keep a neutral spine with your head, heart and sacrum lined up, which preserves the natural ‘S’ shape of your spine and corrects your posture.
You will also learn mindfulness during your Pilates practice, which brings awareness to how your body is feeling and where your body is in the space around you. Over time, practicing mindfulness extends outside the class and into your everyday life. You may notice yourself being aware of how your shoulders are tensed up and you’ll consciously draw them down your back. Or you may find yourself slouching and remember to adjust your posture.
The breathing and meditation practiced during (or at the end of) your class will also help to relieve any tension you may be holding in your muscles. Many of us carry our stresses from everyday life in our shoulders and upper back muscles. Learning to let these muscles relax can also help to relieve pain.
It’s important to attend Pilates classes if you’re interested in using Pilates to relieve your back pain. Having an experienced instructor on hand ensures you are performing the movements with the correct alignment, to avoid causing any further damage. Your Pilates teacher can then also give you tips for doing the exercises at home to further your progress. It goes without saying that you should always have clearance from a medical professional before performing any exercise.
If you’re curious about Pilates and would like to get started, find an instructor or studio near you: https://basipilates.co.za/basi-pilates-sa-network/studios