Exercise doesn’t need to be stressful; it can be relaxing but efficient in improving your strength and posture to help prevent back pain. These are just some of the reasons why Pilates has become so popular and why in recent years we have seen such an increase in the opportunities to start Pilates classes across Edinburgh. So what’s all the hype about? We asked Amy French, a Chartered Physiotherapist and qualified Pilates instructor who works at the McNaughton Physiotherapy Clinic.
What it Pilates?
It takes its name from the late Joseph Pilates, who developed exercises that focused on developing the body’s core muscles to improve body awareness and posture. These exercises are based on biomechanical principles backed up by medical research.
Mat work Pilates is mainly performed lying on a mat and involves specific controlled strengthening exercises for the muscles that support your spine from your neck to your pelvis. It uses breathing to coordinate each movement.
Each of the elements of the Pilates method is explained below:
1.Effective breathing – to release any tension and stiffness in the body
2.Postural awareness – to help reduce pain from poor postures
3.Deep abdominal and pelvic control – to help retrain muscles to prevent or treat low back pain
4.Concentration – to help focus the mind on how the body works
5.Movement coordination, flow and stamina – to teach the body to move more freely and efficiently
Why do Physiotherapists recommend and teach Pilates?
Pilates has been accepted and researched by Physiotherapists because it is seen as an intelligent form of exercise that is safe for all ages and abilities. Pilates exercises are used clinically by Physiotherapists to help rehabilitate patients with recurring low back pain. Research shows that a first episode of a simple low back pain resolves within 6 weeks. The alarming fact is that 80% of those people who have simple back pain will go on to have a second episode within 3-12 months. One of the problems thought to contribute to this recurrence is ‘instability’ or weak deep stabilising muscles also known as core muscles. It is well documented that the muscles trained in Pilates help to stabilise/support the spinal joints to help prevent recurrence of back pain.
How to get started?
Firstly you should always check with a qualified health professional before you undertake any new form of exercise.
Secondly make sure you do your research and find a suitably qualified Pilates instructor; it is beneficial to have a Pilates trained Chartered Physiotherapist to get the best of both worlds if you have had or suffer from back problems.
Joseph Pilates was quoted as saying ‘In 10 sessions you will feel the difference, 20 you will see the difference and in 30 you will have a whole new body!’…
Why not get started and then you, too, can see why Pilates has become so popular – remember practice makes perfect!
McNaughton Physiotherapy Team 2011