Is Pilates Good for Your Back?
Is Pilates Good for You?
In a bid to take care of their back and/or neck pain, many people are prescribed Pilates and other lifestyle exercises like Yoga. Pilates is a great way to regain strength if you have back injuries or muscular imbalances. Whether or not Pilates is good for you depends very much on whether it is prescribed and performed appropriately. The problem does not lie with the exercise but rather in the understanding of what it can help with and what it cannot.
Pilates, Yoga and Tai Chi are all great exercises to help maintain a healthy spine. The keywords here are ‘maintain’ and ‘healthy’. If you have a back problem or neck strain, you are advised against these exercises. Instead, you should be looking to fix your back, not maintain it. However, would doing these exercises a notch below the regular intensity help?
According to Sylvia Ho, Principal Physiotherapist with Core Concepts, “We often recommend our clients take up some form of exercise, including Yoga and Pilates. But not before they are ready. Back and neck pains are complex problems. Just because they are quite common doesn’t mean that they are simple or all have the same underlying cause.”
Core Concept’s Core Stability Programme further breaks down the initial stages of training to include sessions with Real-Time Ultrasound Imaging (RTUI). Sylvia explains, “With RTUI, our clients can get a better grasp of the fundamentals before progressing onto the group classes.”
Prevention vs Treatment
Prevention and treatment are two very different things that are often perceived as being the same. A common but wrong school of thought is that if something helps to prevent a problem, it must also be helpful in treating or fixing a problem. For example, we might take paracetamol (Panadol) to bring a fever down when, but that does not mean that we should take paracetamol regularly to prevent a fever from developing.
Given the rise in the popularity and the number of injuries arising from Pilates and Yoga, there is a growing concern pertaining to the qualifications of the instructor of these disciplines. However, Sylvia believes that qualified instructors only account for half of the equation. She says, “You can’t only depend on someone else to advise you on what’s appropriate. You have to take some proactive action on your own to better understand your conditions and needs.” While it can be daunting to dig through all available information, Sylvia feels that it is a necessary and important step to take.
What If I Have Back Pain?
If you have a back problem, your first course of action should be to seek a health professional’s advice, such as a Physiotherapist or Medical Doctor. Furthermore, even if you have been given the medical approval to go ahead with Pilates or Yoga, you should ease into it slowly. It is important to bear in mind that it has taken your instructor years of training and practice to be able to do what he/she is doing in front of the class.
Core Concepts partners exclusively with Breathe Pilates, a leading Pilates centre, to bring to you a holistic approach to injury rehabilitation, muscle strengthening and fitness training. Breathe specialises in Clinical Pilates and works hand-in-hand with our team of Physiotherapists.