Article by Gibwa Cole B.Sc (Hon’s) CSP.

spineEver mentioned to someone that you have back pain and been told, “Oh you should just do Pilates”?. In the past decade Pilates has become an increasingly popular form of exercise for the general population and is often recommended for those of us with any sort of back pain.  However, it’s a bit intimidating being thrust into a class where you’re suddenly expected to ‘adopt neutral spine’ or ‘articulate the vertebrae’ or my personal favourite ‘draw in the abdominals as if your pants were on fire’. The jargon can be really confusing for first-timers and that’s where Clinical Pilates comes in.

Clinical Pilates happens on a one-to-one basis where a trained physiotherapist takes you through all the basics of Pilates and assists in developing a personal and relevant programme for you. With their vast experience in biomechanical analysis and anatomical knowledge, they are able to identify your specific movement restrictions and come up with exercises/treatments to combat them. But let’s backtrack a bit and talk more about what Pilates is and how it can help you.

Pilates is all about strengthening movement by not only targeting the deep abdominal muscles (your “core”), but also your bigger pelvic, hip and back muscles. These are the structures that are often compromised in low back injury and Pilates assists in strengthening these muscles up to a point that they can stabilise the spine efficiently. A more stable spine means less load on the back and a lower chance of injury.

Pilates is also about body awareness and teaching you how to move so that the above-mentioned muscles are used in the right way. This also links in with posture. Alignment is really important in Pilates (and in daily life too!). Good alignment allows the muscles to work properly, but in a society where we spend our lives hunched over computers and desks – proper alignment often goes out of the window. This in turn compromises the ability of our muscles to stabilise our spine, which can then lead to injury.

roll upSo what have we got so far? 1. Strengthening 2. Spinal stabilisation 3. Body awareness 4. Alignment. What else? Pilates also assists with increasing flexibility. That’s another side effect of our sedentary desk-bound culture – everything just gets wound up.  Pilates helps to get things moving with dynamic stretches whilst maintaining good alignment. Often those who’ve had back pain are scared to move, but our bodies are made to bend and stretch and reach. Pilates can provide you with the tools you need to move safely and without fear of ‘putting your back out’ yet again.

But these benefits aren’t just for those who’ve already sustained injuries. Why not take the offensive approach? Pilates is great for enhancing performance and preventing injury by facilitating good movement patterns, correcting muscle imbalances, improving postural alignment, increasing mobility and just making you move more efficiently.

If you would like to learn how to teach Pilates, sign up for our Pilates Diploma or our Extended Pilates Diploma today.