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Does Pilates help chronic back pain?

(24 Posts)
ilovemyfestivehens Tue 28-Dec-10 15:10:52

Do any of you do Pilates for back pain?

I have chronic back pain and the physio told me to join a Pilates class. I did so and tried to keep the exercises up, but just got bored and stopped doing them.

I wasn't really doing them regularly enough to determine if they really would make a difference. I'm not very good with exercise and find it extremely difficult to make the time due to working and having the dc to look after.

Can anybody recommend Pilates and how long do you do it for each day?

Earlybird Tue 28-Dec-10 16:21:16

If at all possible/affordable, you should book a few private pilates sessions so you fully understand what you should be doing during the class.

IMO, it is very easy to 'miss' what you're aiming for, as it is quite subtle and there is no way a teacher can instruct a beginner properly in a group setting.

If possible, get the private teacher to:
-tell you what to do (hearing)
-demonstrate/show you what to do (seeing)
-let you put your hands on her back/abdomen etc (whatever part of the body the exercise is geared for). (feeling)

Fwiw, I found the touching helped me most of all because I could actually feel what I was supposed to be duplicating with my own body/muscles.

I think once you have got the hang of it, it won't be boring and should help your back problems.

ilovemyfestivehens Tue 28-Dec-10 16:23:38

okay, thanks for that. I will ask at the place in the New Year. It's run by two physios. I did get a bit lost off in the class tbh.

pagwatch Tue 28-Dec-10 16:24:37

Yes. It has helped enormously. But I have to do it properly and regularly. It isn't a quick fix.

ilovemyfestivehens Tue 28-Dec-10 16:26:29

How long do you spend each day?

I can only spare about 20 minutes at the most. A full work out at the class was about an hour, which I just can't find each day.

KerryMumblesBahHumBug Tue 28-Dec-10 16:27:05

i actually found that weight training did more for back pain than anything else. ever.

you have to know what you are doing and how.

you have to start with NO weights and progress slowly.

hyper-extensions were the number one thing that helped though they could prove scary to someone with back pain.

it must be done in association with a trained professional.

build the muscles up in your back and they support everything else.

kayah Tue 28-Dec-10 16:29:27

some like me swear by yoga, others prefer Pilates

yoga would take longer to learn and see results, but teaches you about how your body work and also what works for you

pagwatch Tue 28-Dec-10 16:29:34

I do an hour twice a week.

It is hard to find the time but, as my dh says, if I can't find a way to fit in something so intrinsic to my health then we need to sort our priorities out.

If I can't get to a class I do a tape at home (now I know the basic principals) or some key stretches I worked out with my physio and instructor before I go to bed.

AVeryMerryPersonalClown Tue 28-Dec-10 16:29:37

Oh god yes.

I started almost a year ago after a major back flare up that left me in chronic pain and nerve damage.

I do 2 sessions a week one hour long. I pay a fortune (£67 a month) but my classes are maximum of 8 people and there are 5 qualified instructors. I also get free well being check ups, free reflex sessions and other perks.

pacinofan Tue 28-Dec-10 16:36:31

I could not get along with pilates, but swear by swimming - only time in the day I am completely pain free (although my pain quite manageable now). I asked the doctor I saw when my back went (disc prolapse) if swimming/pilates could help with pain - he said there was nothing medical to back it up, but it may/may not help strenthen the back muscles. Swimming works for me, horses for courses and alll that.

oldenoughtowearpurple Tue 28-Dec-10 16:48:35

Pilates worked for me; did just one class a week but with an excellent teacher. She insisted on two private lessons to start with so she could focus on me - make sure I understood what I was supposed to be 'feeling' work and to understand how hard i should or shouldn't be exercising. She was quite tough but it made a difference in just three weeks.

Moved house; new teacher isn't as good but that isn't so much of an issue as I know what I need to do to keep my back in good nick.

But overall my problem was weak stomach muscles; so other exercise types would have helped, it's just that I chose Pilates and had a good teacher.

MollieO Tue 28-Dec-10 16:55:00

I've being diagnosed with degenerative disc disease and am waiting for physio. My consultant has strongly recommended pilates once physio has improved my movement. He thinks I should make a full recovery if I strengthen my core muscles. It's been a real shock as I've never had back problems and I was effectively housebound for 2.5 weeks as I could hardly walk. Ds had to dress me!

pagwatch Tue 28-Dec-10 17:41:26

there is nothing quite as shocking as not being able to pull up your own pants is there?
every time i think I can't be arsed to go to a class I recall having to get dh to help me get up in and out of the bath

Miggsie Tue 28-Dec-10 17:47:39

Yes, once a week with a tutor and then daily by myself.

I also did Alexander Technique to improve my posture.

Worked a treat.

MollieO Tue 28-Dec-10 20:16:30

Pag I've learnt my lesson. Being overweight and loss of fitness has contributed. The good thing is it can be rectified and it gives me the kick up the arse I needed. Biggest annoyance (now I'm mobile again) is missing skiing - still going but I'll be going for walks instead!

staggerlee Tue 28-Dec-10 21:51:25

I was diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondilitis (a kind of arthritis affecting the spine)20 years ago and was on mega strong pain killers-tramadol- until about a year ago.

I started power pilates (using a reformer machine) in February and can honestly say its the best thing I've ever done.My body has totally changed shape and I've had no need to take any pain killers for almost a year.
Pilates moves do not tend to put any strain on the back and concentrate on building a really strong core.

Its brilliant but you need to persevere.If you don't have much time then I'd recommend the Pilates for Dummies DVD's which are cheap as chips from Amazon

A1980 Wed 29-Dec-10 00:33:14

I don't have back issues but I do have knee issues. The ONLY thing that I have found
that works for my knees is yoga.

Yoga also makes me feel as if I am walking taller and have a better posture so perhaps it helps with back problems too. I would try iyengar or hatha. Steer clear of vinyasa or astanga which are perhaps a bit too enrgetic for beginners with back problesm.

kayah Wed 29-Dec-10 17:55:35

Can anyone recommend a good Pilates instructor in or near Northolt?

Elibean Wed 29-Dec-10 19:29:32

I did Pilates years ago, and had much less back pain (have had fairly chronic mild/moderate problems due to slight scoliosis). I did a class once a week, and a few core abdominal exercises in between - nothing major. But I did it for several years.

Since the dds, I stopped - then recently had very bad back pain after a bout of shingles and the exhaustion that came with it: I've started doing 5 minutes of Pilates exercises (basic abdominal and one or two shoulder blade area ones) and its already helped hugely - nothing else did, painkillers, stretches, etc.

I suspect carefully done weight training would have much the same effect, but the main thing is not to do anything that potentially stresses your back in a bad postural position - iyswim - and Pilates is ace for making sure you're not harming yourself as you exercise.

Good luck - really, try doing a few minutes every day or two (and ideally a class a week too) and see what happens.

mrsshackleton Thu 30-Dec-10 17:19:53

I've been doing pilates for about nine years to counter back pain and a job that involves long hours at a computer. It's definitely done something, my back rarely hurts now. A side benefit is, having always had a pot belly, it's gone and after 2 dcs and 2 cses I pinged back to shape in days.

It really helps to find an instructor you like. Mine is like a friend after all this time and my weekly session with her is like weekly therapy blush. I also have to pay in advance for classes and can't cancel at the last minute without forfeiting the fee so that keeps me going whether I like it or not. I've stuck to private one-on-one classes even though it's expensive as my one big luxury because I feel the benefits are so huge. As others say at least try to have a couple of individual lessons to master the basics and then if at all possible try to find a class/teacher you enjoy seeing to give it a social aspect.good luck

passionfruity Sun 06-Mar-11 08:45:52

Hope you don't mind me resurrecting this thread.

My MRI scan revealed recently that I have a degenerative disc protrusion in my back, which is impinging on a nerve in my leg and causing severe pain

I've had a few physio sessions (which included some pilates-type exercises) but some of the exercises seemed to make it worse so I've stopped them.

Has anyone tried swimming? The physiotherapist suggested it to me. Or acupuncture?

Any stories from anyone who has something similar would be greatly appreciated.

AlistairSim Sun 06-Mar-11 08:52:31

Sorry to hear that, passionfruity.
It's scarey when something goes wrong in your back, makes you feel so vulnerable.

I have a bad back, nothing serious but have occasional flare-ups which leave me unable to move.
I see a McTimoney chiro, which is much more gentle than a regular chiro and can be pain free after one session.
I didn't find swimming much help but this was perhaps because of the effort required for swimming. If I was tired, in pain etc I couldn't be bothered. I found pilates much easier to get in the habit of going to and it really helps with my back.

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