Many of the people who visit our chiropractor in Stoke on Trent for the first time are looking for a way to deal with back pain. We help these new patients through a combination of chiropractic treatments, lifestyle adjustments and soft tissue therapy.
We also recommend that patients with back pain take up a form of exercise which strengthens their core. This reduces the load carried by the back during certain types of movements, relieving inflammation and giving the back time to heal. Having a strong core also reduces the risk of awkward movements damaging the components of the spine.
Of the many forms of exercise that can help strengthen the core is Pilates.
What is Pilates?
Pilates is a total body physical fitness system developed by Joseph Pilates in the early 20th Century. It involves a series of exercises and postures which are effective at improving strength, flexibility, endurance, stability and range of motion.
The primary focus of pilates is on improving the “powerhouse” of the human body, which is the muscles of the abdomen, lower back, and hips. Joseph Pilates believed that strengthening this part of the body was essential for improving coordination, balance and stability. He also suggested that his exercises improved back health and helped people recover from injury.
The original version of pilates had six principles: concentration, control, centre, flow, precision and breathing. More recent versions also include postural alignment, relaxation and stamina to this list.
Millions of people around the world practice pilates each day to improve their fitness, enhance sporting performance or recover from injuries.
How Does Pilates Help Reduce Back Pain?
As mentioned earlier, pilates can be an effective way to strengthen the core muscles which support the spine. Two of the muscles strengthened by pilates are particularly important:
The Multifidus muscle is a network of fleshy and tendinous fasciculi which run close to the centre of the spine and vertebra. This muscle strengthens the spine and prevents unusual movements which have the potential to cause injury.
- Tra Ab
This muscle covers the same area of the body as a corset. It braces and supports the back.
When these muscles are strengthened, the core becomes a strong, rigid cylinder. Aside from providing additional support to the spine, this rigidity provides more stability, improved balanced and greater control over your limbs — which is wonderful for sportspeople and anyone with an active life.
Pilates Exercises Which Can Reduce Back Pain
Just a quick note before you begin — if you have been unwell or haven’t exercised in a while, consult your doctor or appropriate health care professional before starting any new exercise program. You can also talk to our Stoke chiro to learn how beginners can safely incorporate pilates into their daily life.
The following exercises are particularly useful for strengthening the muscles which support the back:
This exercise is an excellent way to start your routine as it helps you warm up the back muscles while improving your flexibility. The idea is to articulate your vertebrae, by rolling down towards the floor. To perform a roll down:
- Stand tall with good posture. Place your feet about shoulder-width apart
- Take a deep breathe in
- As you breathe out, slowly curl your chin into your chest then gradually bend towards the floor, one vertebrae at a time until your hands touch the ground
- Inhale when you reach the bottom, then exhale as you unroll yourself so you are standing straight again
The key to performing this exercise is to go slowly and focus on the movement of individual vertebrae.
This exercise is particularly useful for loosening stiff muscles and easing lower back pain. To perform:
- Lay on your back with a rolled up towel between your bent knees
- Place your right arm flat on the ground at right angles to your body with palm facing up
- Slowly move your knees so they are also facing to the right. As you do so, place your left palm on top of your right palm
- Turn your torso, so you are looking towards the ceiling. As you do so, move your left arm so it is on the left side of your body, in line with your right arm. This will cause your torso to twist, engaging the muscles in your lower back and shoulders.
- Hold for a few breaths, then move back to the starting position and perform on the other side
The Bridge is a fantastic exercise for strengthening the muscles in the lower back and abdomen. To perform the Bridge exercise:
- Lay down on your back with knees bent and feet hip distance apart
- As you exhale, lift your pelvis towards the ceiling, focusing on lifting one vertebrae at a time. The goal is to create a flat line between your chest and knees
- Inhale as you curl your vertebrae and roll back down
There are several variations to this exercise, which you can view here.
If you are suffering back pain or discomfort our Stoke Chiropractor is here to help you. To book an appointment at City Chiropractic Clinic call 01782 848 184 or you can book online at our website here.
Take your first step towards better health and call us on 01782 848 184 today
From the team at City Chiropractic Clinic
Our Chiropractors in Stoke on Trent are here to help you