Pilates is a method of exercise that was developed in Germany by Joseph Pilates in the early 20th century to improve his own health and the health of his colleagues. Pilates emphasizes using the mind to control the muscles of the body. In particular, Pilates focuses on strengthening the core muscles which work to keep the body balanced. One of the primary ways in which Pilates helps its practitioners to accomplish this is by teaching attention to breathing and concentration on spinal alignment.
Pilates initially enjoyed popularity in the dance community. Dancers greatly appreciated the improvement in balance, flexibility, and strength that Pilates offered them. Then in the 1980s, Pilates became an extremely popular form of exercise among the general population of the United States. Since then a number of distinct communities have found that Pilates can offer them a desirable benefit.
Pilates has been shown to be extremely helpful to those who are suffering from lower back pain. Many of the basic principles of Pilates are the very same ones that are used in other, more traditional back exercise programs. Two of the most important of these principles are learning how to neutrally align the spine and strengthening the deep postural muscles which support the alignment of the spine. Many physical therapists have begun incorporating Pilates into their patients’ recovery programs.
So who is most likely to see improvement in their back by incorporating Pilates into their exercise program? People who are suffering from back pain caused by forms of excessive movement or the degeneration of back joints and discs are particularly likely to benefit from Pilates. While this population may at first glance seem quite small, lower back pain is more common that one might think. Lower back pain is one of the most common complaints from males over the age of 20 and is quite common in women as well.
People who suffer from lower back pain most consistently benefit from developing a strong muscular corset to support their back. This means strengthening their core muscles, which happens to be a very happy consequence of Pilates. Through the improvement of the muscles of the hip and shoulder girdle, which Pilates also provides, particularly in flexibility and strength, patients can learn how to develop fluid and supported movement. This allows them to alleviate any unnecessary pulling on the spinal column.
Additionally, Pilates can help these patients to correct postural asymmetries which can cause uneven stress on the spine and uneven wear on the discs and joints of the back. Since bad posture is one of the leading causes of lower back pain, this aspect of Pilates is a blessing to those with aching backs. Those who not only attend their Pilates classes, but learn how to incorporate what they have learned into their daily lives (e.g. the Abdominal Scoop and Neutral Spine) experience significant relief. As always, it’s a great idea forpeople considering incorporating a new exercise regime into their schedule in order to correct a medical condition to consult with their doctor before they start.
Written By: Updated: June 29,2011