One of the best (and conservative) types of treatment for back pain is Pilates.
Pilates addresses the core from the deepest layer out. It’s designed to lengthen muscles through movement, creating a healthy balance of strength and flexibility. When you add breathing patterns, it helps to create efficiency of movement resulting in a strong and healthy spine and a pain-free low back.
Mark’s recovery from back pain began in the late 1990’s while attending a preseason NHL game in Portland. As he was walking with some friends through the city (who happened to be members of the Pittsburgh Penguins), one of the team’s trainers asked Mark to stop. He then asked Mark to sit down in the parking lot with his legs stretched out and touch his toes. Mark could only achieve a 45 degree bend. The trainer looked at one of the players, laughed, and asked, “Look familiar?” The trainer went on to explain that the source of his obvious back pain wasn’t in his back. It was his lack of flexibility that was causing the back pain. Some of the Pittsburg Penguins had started Pilates to help improve their flexibility, which also helped build core strength.
For the past eight years, Mark has been taking private Pilates with Deborah Kenner to continue building on his core stability and maintain his active and pain-free lifestyle. Mark does have other spinal issues, so he’s not 100 percent pain-free all the time. However, he says, “My baseline is amazing! I rarely, if ever, can’t work
or play because of my back.”
My own journey (Leaza)
My own story is not unlike Mark’s. Growing up, I swam and played volleyball, tennis, and soccer. Training for those sports consisted mostly of increasing arm and leg strength to jump higher, hit harder, and run faster. Looking back on those years, I’d always suffered from low back pain. I could never bend down and touch my toes without feeling some discomfort in my low back and hips. It wasn’t until my athletic career ended that I discovered Pilates and learned that my low back pain had been caused by severe muscle tightness of my hamstrings. It wasn’t a back problem at all! I began to enjoy a pain-free lifestyle through increased flexibility and a strong and stable core.
Pilates has kept me strong ever since. I’ve had three healthy pregnancies which led to overcoming habitual nursing postures, kids to load and unload out of car seats, diaper bags and backpacks to carry around, and more. Yes, my back hurts at times,
but the practice and foundation of Pilates helps keep me strong and healthy. I always walk away from a Pilates session feeling ready to live
my life to the fullest. So can you!
Written by Leaza Armstrong, Group Fitness Instructor