Amazing improvements in people with Pilates.

Here’s some feedback from one of my Pilates ladies…. Pilates has been pretty amazing for her, not only has her pain reduced and her mobility improved but she has lost toned up and her pelvic floor muscles have strengthened.

“With regards my back, I have been suffering with problems since July 2003.  I initially hurt it bending over to lift up a laptop at work, and on other occasions, just simply getting up from a sofa, sneezing, getting washing out of the washing machine or just turning have been enough to start an episode.  In the past, I have also suffered with a trapped nerve, leading to sciatica down my left leg and have often found myself laid up for a week, unable to go to work as the pain was so intense. The chiropractor diagnosed it as sacroiliac joint injury and I have attended whenever problems have flared up ever since 2003.

The most recent episode was last February, when I hurt my back loading A3 photocopier paper into the lowest drawer on the machine.  I was unable to move without assistance, was taken home and had to have 3 days off work on painkillers.  After this, I was seeing the chiropractor every week fortnightly, the chiropractor felt that there was a need for further action.  She suggested I start Pilates classes and that if this didn’t help after a few weeks, she would book me in for an x-ray to see if there was any obvious damage to my lower spine. At this point, although I was not experiencing acute pain, I had low-level pain on a daily basis, coupled with regular painful muscle spasms in my back which seemed to occur for no reason and was unable to perform routine tasks, such as dressing, unaided.

I then started Pilates with Priya.  Within two weeks, I was noticing an effect and was able to bend / lift my legs more easily.  I am now able to dress myself and can (with care) do tasks such as loading and unloading the washing machine / dishwasher.  I am no longer seeing the Chiropractor at all. I have also noticed a big improvement in my pelvic floor muscles and no longer have ’embarrassments’ when I cough or sneeze!  My husband has commented on the reduction in size of my stomach and I have begun to notice a line of muscle running down my abdomen that I have never seen before!”

How Pilates can help you.

With new classes come new clients and a few people recently have been asking me how Pilates can benefit them, so here is a little recap for you….

(1) Mind & Focus & Clarity
Pilates exercises require you to use your brain! There’s body alignment to think about, muscles to focus on, limbs to move and breathing to perfect. It can take a while to get the hang of all of this but when you do it become relaxing and challenging all at the same time. Pilates movements are smooth, stretching, and flowing, leading to a relaxed body awareness and focused attention. The philosophy of pilates is to understand and accept your current capacities and slowly work towards improvement, rather than trying to force things. I find that focusing on feeling my muscles working and concentrating on my breathing really leaves me feeling like I’ve worked but I also feel refreshed and chilled.

(2) Spinal Stabilization
Pilates is particularly helpful to individuals with back pain or arthritis because it stabilizes and strengthens the muscles around the spine. Research shows that the transverse abdominus and multifidi muscles are involved in spinal stabilization. Following an injury, the spine can get out of alignment, either due to the injury itself or the person’s attempts to compensate by making postural changes. The deepest layer of transverse muscles in the abdomen wrap around the spine and help to stabilize it. Therefore strengthening these muscles can both prevent and diminish low back pain as well as improving posture and strength. Personally I’ve seen a lady with really hunched over shoulders and upper back (kyphosis) start to straighten out and have worked with lots of people with lower back pain who have seen significant improvements. It helped me all throughout my pregnancy and continues to help me now when I’m carrying a baby around.

(3) Core Strength
The core muscles are those in the back and abdomen. Pilates exercises strengthen these muscles, leading to better posture, better balance, flatter abs, and more resistance to injury. Over time you learn to use these muscles when doing day to day tasks. Becoming more aware of how to protect your spine and look after your body whilst moving, twisting and bending is key to preventing injuries. Many people hurt their back simply through bending over and picking up something in an unsafe way. Pilates will help build strength in your core and help teach you how to move using your core.

(4) Breathing and Relaxation
Pilates exercises require a focus on the breath as participants move with in and out breaths. This can be tricky to learn but so relaxing once you get it! Breathing may be lengthened to accommodate the movement, and awareness of breathing is enhanced. The combination of deep breathing and rhythmic stretching movements can lead to deep relaxation and stress relief.

(5) Fitness and Toning

Over time, when combined with cardiovascular exercise and a healthy eating plan Pilates will help you tone up your body and build your fitness up. I combine my Pilates sessions with running, walking, step aerobics and conditioning sessions where I do exercises such as squats, lunges, press ups and use weights. However I also like to vary things and so review what I am doing regularly and make changes to keep it interesting. My exercise has to fit around my baby, so its often involving her too.