Thursday, January 17, 2013

Pilates for better backs

I may have mentioned in previous Blogs that both myself and the Young Bride have had problems with our backs. The YB recently had a couple of spinal injections to relieve her pain, whilst some years ago, yours truly had a micro-discectomy to remove the fragments of a prolapsed disc that was painfully impinging on one of my lumbar nerves!

Back problems are one of the major reasons people attend their Doctors, they cause a massive amount of time lost from work, they cost the economy hundreds of millions each year and they can be bl**dy painful! So we should take back care far more seriously, and do all we can to prevent problems occurring or recurring, and that's why the YB and I have started Pilates classes with an accredited Physiotherapist. And what a learning curve it's been!

Firstly, there is no doubt that as your age increases, your flexibility decreases! Also, modern living dictates that we sit down for far too long which encourages poor posture and reduced movement at hips, knees and ankles - just try squatting down on your "haunches" and keep your feet flat on the ground! Many aged people in poor economies hold conversations and drink copious amounts of tea whilst in the "squatting" position: I could last about 60 seconds before several of my joints would scream "Masochist", and many of patients wouldn't even be able to assume the squat position!

Which leads me onto Pilates, which focuses on the "Powerhouse" area of the body - below the ribs and above the pubic area - commonly known as the abdominal muscles. And what the Pilates experts talks about  is

  1. Centering
  2. Control
  3. Concentration
  4. Precision 
  5. Breathing
According to our Physio at West Perth & Mosman Park Physiotherapy the exercises are designed to activate these "stabilizers" which reduces the stress on the spine and joints of the body and help attain correct postural alignment and muscle balance.

From our first two sessions I would add laughter too as watching the YB balance on a fit ball whilst trying to raise her left arm and right leg without tumbling off was a sight for sore eyes - we both fell about laughing until we had to move onto other, less amusing exercises.

After two weeks and two lessons we are more aware of the position of our lower back whilst sitting, standing, jogging, on the scooter and even now whilst I am typing. We obviously have so much more to learn and to practice, but I suspect that although it may not be 100% preventative, it will give us more protections and help us recover faster should we suffer from renewed back problems.

I intend to make 2013 the year in which, whenever I can, I'm going to try and improve how we care for our spines and promote all those things that are known to help reduce the burden of back problems. Having strong backs is the only known predictor of reducing the frequency and pain of back problems - so we need exercises like Pilates to achieve that. We also need to look at our work stations - both at home and at work - and spend less time sitting and more time standing: which is the reason the good Lord gave us two legs and one bottom - we should stand twice as much as we sit!

For all of you who do want to start up some back exercises, PLEASE make sure that the person you get your training from knows what they are talking about - that's why I like Physiotherapists who have studied Pilates, because they really do know their stuff.


Ampersands & angle brackets need to be encoded.

1 comment:

Mariodacatsmom said...

Super article - another article I should have known about 15 years ago. I am plagued by back problems that bother me much more than the PD does. I suspect this is due to 45 years of sitting in a secretarial chair for 7 1/2 hours a day. I'm currently getting steroid injections whenever I need them - at least once every 3 months. It helps for a couple of months, but then back to hurting again.