Many of my clients come to Pilates because they have bad backs. Sometimes as a last resort. Or because their physio or osteopath has suggested that attending a Pilates class will help
In my experience, it usually does. But if you have a bad back of any kind, a back that goes into muscular spasm, or something more serious like a slipped or prolapsed disc it can be easy to spend your life being terrified of doing more damage and ending up in chronic pain.
And so you don’t go to Pilates.
This fear can manifest itself in even more tension, making the back tighter as the muscles surrounding the injury become protective – a vicious circle if you like. Both mentally and physically.
So what to do?
Pilates can and does help – simply, it strengthens the core which supports your back, it relaxes and lengthens the muscles allowing healing to take place. And eventually the confidence you gain will help you to move better, improve your posture and return to all the things you used to enjoy before you hurt your back.
Check with your osteopath, physio or medical practitioner that your condition can be helped by Pilates (most can). Continue to take their advice. Make sure you talk with the Pilates instructor at length before you start the sessions, so that she/he understands your condition and possible limitations. And then give it a go!
‘I started Pilates because of my chronic and sometimes acute back pain. I can do a lot more because I’m not going to be in pain afterwards. Pilates has given me freedom to play sport and run a half-marathon.’ SH
‘I slipped two discs picking up something heavy and was referred to a consultant who said either I would need surgery, or because I was fit, I could just have physio and do Pilates. So I chose the latter. After about a year of Pilates I didn’t need painkillers any more – a 6 month scan showed the discs had naturally gone back in. Although my back will always be weak Pilates made it happen and taught me so much.’ JL