Midlife backs are under constant stress and strain, not least from desk based jobs, caring for children and elderly parents, or simply trying to keep up with the daily pressures of life. In fact, it’s estimated that 80% of us will suffer from some sort of back pain in our lifetime, with women more likely to suffer than men.
For women, the decline of oestrogen through menopause, which helps to maintain healthy tissue, can lead to added aches, pains and joint stiffness. Add in daily stresses and lack of exercise, and back pain can become a common and niggling issue.
Why choose Pilates?
Pilates has been shown to be more effective than other types of exercise to reduce the intensity of back pain. It:
Strengthens the back
Virtually every pilates move works to strengthen back and abdominal muscles. By creating a strong core, we can strengthen the muscles supporting the spine and lower back. This helps prevent and reduce back pain.
Promotes mobility and flexibility of the spine
Both mobility and flexibility are important for moving our bodies well and helping reduce back pain. In well-planned Pilates sessions, backs will be guided through every possible range of movement - rotation, flexion, bending and extension. Focussing on mobilising and stretching also helps to lubricate joints and lengthen muscles - helping to ease pain and soreness.
Works the whole body
As well as a physical workout, Pilates helps to calm body and mind. By concentrating on slow, steady moves, as well as the breath, our minds become clear of everyday distractions. This type of ‘movement meditation’ can help reduce anxiety, relieve stress and promote better sleep, all of which help manage chronic pain.
Can be adapted at any age
Pilates is a fantastic way to exercise safely at any age. Pilates moves can be adapted to suit individual needs and you can add on to each move as you rebuild your strength and your pain reduces.
Under the guidance of an appropriately qualified Pilates teacher, your confidence in daily movement and activities can grow. However, it’s important to note that not all Pilates movements are suitable for everyone, so always seek professional advice and guidance before exercising with back pain.
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