From Sedentary to Healthy Lifestyle: How Pilates Relieves Back Pain
Sitting for hours on end could lead to back pain. So, if you’re looking for relief, exercises that involve stretching, such as Pilates leg kicks and back extensions, could do wonders.
We spend much of our days behind our desks, commuting or driving, and watching TV or using our gadgets. What’s more, many of today’s working professionals in Singapore lead a mostly sedentary life, doing minimal physical activity.
What’s wrong with that, you might ask—sitting sounds perfectly safe and harmless. Straight up, recent research tells us that sedentary routines and habits put you at a higher risk for some chronic diseases and even premature death. A UK study also found that prolonged sitting is linked to depression.
If that persistent ache in your back is beginning to affect your movement, and when you’re struggling with everyday activities, it’s no wonder you’re often in a bad mood. It’s your body telling your mind that it has had enough of sitting. That’s your brain urging you to move!
Many of our clients here at Pilates Plus Singapore are just like you—looking for relief from pain and respite from everyday stress. And just like them, you too can benefit from Pilates to move from sedentary to healthy in both mind and body.
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Particulars of Pain: Why your back hurts
Any discomfort in the lower back should not be taken lightly, whether it’s a dull ache or searing pain. In most cases, it’s the part of the spine that curves inward at the base of the back that takes the most impact when you’re seated.
The pain you feel is either concentrated in one area or radiating throughout the back along with the spine’s network of nerves, muscles, and ligaments. This is why back pain is described as lower back pain, middle back pain, or tailbone pain.
You put even more strain on the back when you’re slouched or hunched over your desk or gadget most of the time. It causes the discs between the bones to compress, which in turn causes the vertebrae to rub against each other. These fluid-filled discs are meant to cushion and prevent damage to the vertebrae when you move.
Another common reason for back pain is muscle strain, affecting the lumbar region or the lower part of the back. When you overstretch or twist, you sometimes feel an ache or a stiffening from your back down to your buttocks.
If you’ve been feeling more and more of the pain and strain, it’s a good time to take steps to correct it. Beyond discomfort, it could be symptoms of more serious problems with the bones and joints, or even herniated discs and degenerative diseases of the spine. First off, have yourself checked by a medical professional to get to the root of the problem.
Pilates for Pain Relief: How stretching helps
Pilates is a mind-body exercise that involves controlled movement, correct posture, and proper breathing. Its purpose is to tone the body, develop flexibility, and strike an overall mind-body balance. The principles of Pilates are consistent with exercise programmes that focus on aligning the spine and strengthening the postural muscles—effective in preventing and reducing back pain. Here are some Pilates poses and exercises that specifically target your problem areas.
Back Extensions are low-impact Pilates exercises focused on strengthening the lower back muscles. It entails lying face down, and lifting your shoulders and ankles a few inches off the mat. When you contract your back muscles backward and work your abs to lift your chest and chin, you should feel a pull in your lower back—that means you’re doing it right.
The Double Leg Kick loosens your lower back muscles and helps develop more flexibility. It involves lying flat on your stomach with your face, shoulders, and pubic bone pressed firmly onto an exercise mat. The goal is to lift your abs and arch your back so your navel doesn’t touch the mat. Then, using your thigh muscles, kick both legs backward in successive bursts.
The Cat and Cow Stretch, a pose that mimics a stretching cat and a grazing cow, is great for toning the back muscles without the help of any equipment. The exercise requires you to put your hands and knees on an exercise mat (like a cow grazing) and arch your back upward as you let your head and tailbone drop a few inches to the ground (like a cat stretching).
Hip Extensions are also a great workout for both the lower back and pelvic muscles. With your forearms and palms flat on the mat, place your knees beneath your hips at a 90-degree angle. Your spine should form a straight line from head to tailbone when you stretch to lift your leg backward, so the sole of the foot is facing the ceiling and the thigh is parallel to the floor.
Knee Folds are one of the most basic Pilates moves, and often done as a warmup to mat exercises. These are also a good workout for releasing stress on the back. It entails bending your knees and using your ab muscles to lift one leg off the ground until your knee is almost touching your chest. Just be sure it’s not your buttocks or legs that are doing the lifting!
Proper Pain Management: What to do first
Pilates exercises target the muscles in the abdomen, muscles that support the back, and muscles in the buttocks. The goal is to stabilise the core and gradually build it up through a controlled range of movement and breathing techniques.
Since both the body and mind are engaged, you’re not just doing physical workout but also training your brain to breathe properly and focus clearly.
The exercises in a Pilates programme can be challenging both mentally and physically, but not so much that it can cause you to struggle. If it is making you more uncomfortable, stop and consult your trainer, or seek medical help as needed.
The full benefits of Pilates may not be realised right away, just as the problems that caused your back developed over time. By learning to use your muscles correctly—by supporting instead of stressing the spine—you’ll feel the tension drain away from your muscles and your mobility increase after a few sessions.
Before deciding to take up Pilates, it’s very important to establish the root cause of your back pain. This is why we at Pilates Plus Singapore strongly recommend that these exercises be done under the supervision of trained instructors. They can also teach you the proper breathing techniques and the correct pacing required to make Pilates work effectively.
Our sessions come in fundamental, intermediate, and advanced levels, with the exercises progressing from preparatory steps to the full version of the movements at a pace that’s comfortable and safe for you.
Our classes provide workouts that build strength, tone muscles, and increase endurance, all the while teaching you how to discipline your mind toward enriching your life.
Call Pilates Plus at +65 622.118.45 now or drop us a line,
and we’ll suggest a programme that takes you closer to your own health goals.