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Latest "Back Pain" Posts

10 Pilates Moves to Alleviate Back Pain: Don’t Do These…

Why these 10 Pilates Moves to Alleviate Back Pain, just might make your back feel worse instead of better…

10 Pilates Moves to Alleviate Back PainI recently read an article from ACE: 10 Pilates Moves to Alleviate Back Pain and I so vehemently disagree with the exercises and information in this article that I have to share my thoughts.

Here’s the short version of what I’m thinking about this article:  10 Pilates Moves to Alleviate Back Pain if executed well because you really understand Pilates and don’t have any back problems to start with!

Now if you want a few more details about this, keep reading.  I’m on a rant and this is a longer than usual post, but if you have chronic back pain and want to use Pilates as a method to help, the info below will be worth your time to read more.

I love that Pilates is a hot topic to help people alleviate back pain, but it really bothers me to read articles like the recent post from ACE Fitness, which starts by saying that, “Many people with chronic back pain have felt their aches diminish with regular Pilates sessions.”  Yes, I agree.  Then the article goes on to say, “While equipment-based Reformer sessions can be costly and group mat classes may not target your specific needs, many Pilates exercises can help realign your movement patterns to prevent and lessen common back pain.” And then there’s more… “Here are 10 moves that, when practiced regularly, can help improve posture and strengthen the support structures that take pressure off the lower back.”

Sigh… as a fitness professional who has been in the health and wellness industry for forty years, and more specifically focused on Pilates and functional movement training for the past twenty years. It frightens me to see this article and think that people with chronic back pain are reading this and thinking, “Great, I don’t need to invest in Pilates equipment training, OR find a well-qualified Pilates teacher to help me, and why bother with group mat classes, I can just do these 10 exercises on my own and my back pain will go away!” AUUGHGHHHH!

Here’s why if you chose to follow the advice from the ACE article, 10 Pilates Moves to Alleviate Back Pain, your risk of further injury is imminent:

Posted by Aliesa George in Alleviating Pain & Chronic Health Problems, Back Pain, Pilates, Pilates Exercises, Techniques & Teaching Tips.

Biking and Low Back Pain – Smart Exercise Choices for a Healthy Spine

bikingQuestion about Biking and Low Back Pain:
“I am looking for some pointers on using a spin bike.  I am challenged with low back pain, use clip in shoes, and am very conscious of heels straight in line from toes, but need butt and back positions.  Thanks for any help you can offer.”  Dana

Answer from Aliesa:

In my opinion, spin class and biking is perhaps not the most ideal exercise choice if dealing with low back pain.

If you look at most bikers, the low spine is rounded with the pelvis and hips tucked under, creating a prime opportunity for discs to translate out of place to the back.  You sit in this position for an hour or more, and when you get off the bike it may be difficult to stand up straight!  Add to this the fact that the head and neck are cranked into extension to see where you’re going, and you’ve got flexion through most of the spine, and hyper-extension in the neck.   A healthy spine can put in lots of miles in this position, but if you have low back pain, SI joint problems, or neck and shoulder pain, this body position for cycling may only make things worse.   

Posted by Aliesa George in Back Pain, Exercise and Fitness.

Low Back Pain: The Sexy Cat Exercise for Healthy Hips and a Happy Back

catHave you ever experienced hip pain or low back pain?  Most people at some point in their lives have dealt with one or both of these debilitating problems.  Our sedentary lifestyle and poor movement habits have led to grippy overworked hip flexors, weak abs, and generally speaking imbalances with the strength and flexibility of the lumbo-pelvic complex (our hips, legs, pelvis, and low back.)

Posted by Aliesa George in Back Pain, Exercise and Fitness, Pilates Exercises, Techniques & Teaching Tips.

Pilates Exercise Tips for Gardening without Back Pain

Top 5 Pilates Training Tips to Stay Healthy and Help Avoid Knee, Hip and Back Pain While Having Fun Working in the Yard and Gardening

shov elIt’s that time of year again; Mother Nature is calling us outside to play in the garden.  It’s time to pull weeds, plant and clean things up so that we can enjoy a lovely yard and watch things bloom and grow.

I know that even with my small city lot, it usually takes me two or three full weekends of solid effort for Spring clean-up, just to get the weeds pulled, shrubs trimmed and everything ready for the planting and growing season.  I wish I had more space for fruit trees and a big vegetable garden, but right now my yard is filled with perennial flowers and herbs – things that don’t require too much time and effort for me to maintain and enjoy.

But even so, after a day in the yard, my feet, hands, legs and back always seem to remind me that I’ve done something out of the ordinary and found and used a few muscle groups that don’t get worked in my normal everyday Pilates and weight room workouts.  So how do we stay healthy and avoid knee, hip and back pain while having fun working in the yard and gardening? 

Posted by Aliesa George in Back Pain, Pilates.

Exercises for Healthy Feet: Stretch Your Calves & Strengthen Your Arches

Articulating the Ankle:
Improving Mobility To Point & Flex Your Feet

Pretty Pink Ballet FeetAre you searching for the right exercises for healthy feet?  Are your calf muscles tight?  Do you ever have heel pain?  Do you hop around with toe cramps? or arch cramps? Are you plagued with Plantar Fasciitis problems?  Are you still searching for foot care solutions that work well for your tired, achy feet?

Healthy Feet and ankles are not just for ballerinas!

Whether you walk, run, dance or just sit behind a desk all day, how much we use, or misuse, our feet can contribute to challenging foot problems and more.  Of course if you’re dealing with an acute injury consultation with your doctor or podiatrist should be your first stop. But if you’re trying to find the strategies and solutions that can help get you back to health and keep you poor feet out of trouble, it may be time to pay a little more attention to your ankles, arches and toes on a very regular basis.

Posted by Aliesa George in Back Pain, Flexibility & Stretching, Running, Walking.

The Spiral Effect of the Spine to Swing your Arms for a Healthy Stride

Use Spine Twisting To Improve Your Walking & Running Technique

Arm Swing, Running picThere are lots of things you can pay attention to when you walk and run that can improve your pace, stride, form and function.  A great arm swing is one of the key factors in not only freeing the arms and shoulders, but also strengthening your core support and reducing stress and tension in through your whole spine.

If your back hurts after a long walk or run or you notice more tension in your neck and shoulders before, during or after getting your miles in, there’s a good chance you’re missing out on the important “spiral effect” of the spine while you’re swinging your arms.

It’s interesting to observe bodies in motion.  And sometimes, seeing what to look for, can make it easier to feel in your own body exactly what your movement habits are.

Posted by Aliesa George in Back Pain, Exercise and Fitness, Running, Walking.

Injury and Exercise: How to Bounce Back and Be Stronger than Ever

fitness timeDiscover Ways to Creatively “Work Out” Around Your Limitations to Stay On Track for a Healthy, Active Life

It’s much nicer when we are able to stay healthy, active and fit.  But sometimes whether it’s a medical health issue, surgery, accident or over-training injury we find ourselves hurt…  Out of commission, unable to do even simple daily chores much less a vigorous heart-pounding workout.  The pain and frustration of NOT being able to do what we want can send your training program into a tailspin.  When we are young it seems easy to just grin and bear it, pretend like the pain isn’t really there and keep on keeping on.  But with age comes wisdom (well, sometimes…) and, if we are smart, we figure out better strategies to rest, recover and get back in action.

Posted by Aliesa George in Alleviating Pain & Chronic Health Problems, Back Pain, Exercise and Fitness, Functional Movement, Mind-Body Health, Optic Neuritis.

Pilates Breathing Tips To Decompress the Spine, Reduce Neck Pain, & Improve Posture

Are your current breathing habits helping you stay healthy, or potentially causing back pain, shoulder pain or neck pain?  Is your current breath pattern helping improve your posture with every breath you take?

Breathing is something we take for granted.  It happens automatically to keep us alive.  Inhaling is the first thing we do when we’re born, and exhaling is the last things we do when we die.  Every minute, of every day  for our entire life, our heart beats to pump life nourishing blood through our system, and our lungs and diaphragm work to provide oxygen to our blood & cells.

It’s nice to know that we don’t have to think really hard to keep breathing and stay alive, but better breathing habits definitely have added benefits to improve our health. 

These Pilates Breathing Tips Can Help:

Posted by Aliesa George in Alleviating Pain & Chronic Health Problems, Back Pain, Breathing, Pilates, Posture Improvement.

Foot Fitness Exercise: Flexing the Ankle for an Effective Calf Stretch

Today’s foot fitness tip is especially important for runners, walkers.  It also can benefit people with lower back issues.  I’m going to share my “secrets for success” in improving leg, ankle, and foot flexibility with an easy and effective calf stretch. Whether you’re fit with no injuries, or are experiencing back pain, or just have tight lower back muscles from lifestyle habits or vigorous workouts taking the time to stretch your ankles and calf muscles can help keep both your legs and lower back in great shape!  Check out this video clip to discover how to get the most from your calf stretch.

Posted by Aliesa George in Back Pain, Flexibility & Stretching, Foot Care & Foot Fitness, Videos.

Scoliosis: Brace, Fuse, or Exercise?

There is controversy over the use of braces to correct excessive curvature of the spine (scoliosis) in teenagers because research has failed to prove that they work.  “Bracing is regarded as effective by some and as useless by others.” According to Stefano Negrini, MD the scientific director of the ISICO (Italian Scientific Spine Institute) in Milan.

The cause of most adolescent scoliosis is unknown. It affects 3-5 out of every 1,000 children, and is more common and more severe in girls.

Scoliosis can be:

  • Idiopathic – Of unknown cause.
  • Functional – From poor posture and body alignment habits.
  • Structural – Caused by disease, or birth defects.

So why is bracing used if the experts aren’t positive it’s actually working?

Based on the severity some sort of treatment is required, because if left untreated damage to the spine, heart, and lungs can occur as an adult.  Bracing is less evasive and still allows the option to strengthen the body through exercise and movement to balance and support the spine.  The alternative option of surgery and spine fusion is a permanent and last-resort option to protect the health of internal organs and quality of life.

What else can you do to treat Scoliosis?

While studies so far show that none of these can prevent the progression of scoliosis, they may offer some relief of symptoms.

  • Manipulation by a Chiropractor, Kinesiologist, or Osteopathic Doctor
  • Electrical Stimulation
  • Diet & Nutrition
  • Exercise

The benefits of Pilates for clients with scoliosis

Over the years,  I’ve had many clients with varying degrees of curvature of the spine participate in Pilates programs.  And while there might not be documented research to the benefits of Pilates exercises for scoliosis…From my experience, I have seen amazing gains in strength, and mobility.  The curves  don’t  go back to normal, but it is possible to learn how to strengthen the body and retrain some of the weaker muscles to better support the spine and achieve more optimal muscle balance.  Plus increased body awareness of good and bad posture habits is vital to learn how to avoid falling into the poor alignment that the scoliosis curve would prefer.  Spend more time using your own muscles to strive for good posture through Pilates and other fitness exercises, and you’re retraining the body for better health.

Looking at the Difference in Support Options

A brace is an external support for the spine. If the brace is doing the work, our muscles don’t have to work as hard (and in my opinion….may become weaker over time.) But if you don’t have the muscle awareness or strength to properly support the body all day long…bracing may be required to assist.

Spine fusion surgery creates permanent internal support for the spine. (While this might solve one problem, it has the potential to create others) And generally speaking fusion surgery is a last resort option.

Exercise strengthens the core and back muscles so your body can provide it’s own  muscular support for the spine. Pilates  exercises with the focus on core stabilization, and functional mobility of the spine in all directions – flexion, extension, side bending, and rotation, and should be considered as a primary care option to assist in improving health and supporting the spine.

The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases continues to research and learn more about treatments for scoliosis to determine the best modalities for improved health.  I hope in time, that more documented research into the benefits of Pilates for scoliosis will be conducted.

Posted by Aliesa George in Back Pain, Health, Pilates.