Centerworks Blog

Latest "Back Pain" Posts

Core Support for Better Posture

Low Center vs. High Center: Get Your Core Support Where It Can Serve You Best

By finding and focusing on the right segment of your midsection to improve core support you can improve posture, help eliminate aches and pains, and reduce stress for better health.

One of the things I spend lots of time on with my clients is identifying the difference between Low Center and High Center support.  Lack of body awareness, not understanding the difference between low center and high center, not knowing what your normal “go-to” recruiting pattern for core support really is, are just a few of the reasons why I believe so many people have issues with low back pain, hip pain, shoulder pain, and neck pain.

You might “kind of” know that your posture isn’t great.  But you might not completely realize that YOU are 100% in charge of HOW you are holding your posture, and 100% in change of WHERE you are holding your posture. You also might not realize how much your “not-so-great” posture habits have been affecting every little ache and pain your body experiences throughout the day.

The cumulative effect of poor posture habits over time, is that some of those little aches and pains turn into chronic problems and for many people this leads to shots, surgeries, and mis-use injuries.  But at the root of it all is POSTURE. 

Posted by administrator in Alleviating Pain & Chronic Health Problems, Back Pain.

Bye-Bye Back Pain By Practicing this Simple Back-Opening Breathing Exercise

Reducing Back Pain with Breathing Are You Ready to Take Action and Do Something About Your Back Pain?

Back pain can be anywhere along the spine from the tip of your tailbone, all the way up to the base of your skull.  Regardless of where it hurts, or what you’ve done to aggravate it – the truth is, that all anybody ever really wants is a quick fix to make the pain go away.

I know personally how life-altering it is to live with chronic back pain.  I was born with defects at L5-S1 and that instability has made maintaining my core strength a necessity to keep me healthy.  And if you’re low back is out of alignment, nothing stacked on top of that is quite right either so back pain can result anywhere from the bottom to the top.

If it’s not your low back that’s bothering you, it might be your mid-back, or upper back / neck and shoulders.  It’s nice if a chiropractic adjustment can get you back in alignment, but then the question remains – how long will your adjustment hold before it hurts again?  Pills and shots tend to mask the pain so you feel amazing while you’re medicated, and worse off when it wears off!

There are 2 critical things to pay attention to that can quickly begin alleviating your back pain problems. 

  1. Better Posture
  2. Breathing

Ideally our spine is designed to move freely in all directions.  When the bones are “out of balance” it restricts movement.   Muscles get into tight over-holding patterns, and the daily activities we do over and over sometimes only make it worse.  Muscles move bones, so getting the right muscle balance to maintain healthy body alignment for better posture really does matter if you’re serious about fixing your back pain problems.  We need stability AND mobility.

It’s nice to think, “ If I could just “relax” my back would feel better.”  But the truth is, it’s a combination of both work and release that will make the biggest difference to improve your health.  Right now that work/release balance for good posture is out of whack, and the only way your body can tell you there’s a problem is with a pain signal.

Improving posture is going to be a long-term project…  There is lots to become aware of, bad habits to replace with better habits, and never-ending opportunities to incorporate posture-improving exercises into your weekly workout program. If you’re interested in getting started paying attention to your current posture habits click here to take this Posture Quiz.

Now let’s talk about breathing: Keep reading and take in a few deep breaths.  Notice where the air is going inside your body.

  • Does your low belly stick out when you inhale?
  • Does most of your air rise up into the front of your chest? 

(Both of these not-so-hot breathing habits are contributing factors to low back pain.)

  • Are you able to take a full, deep breath, or are you a shallow breather?

If your back really hurts you might be compensating by not breathing deeply enough to avoid more pain (when in fact this choice is only making the lock down effect worse, and creating more tension.) 

  • Do you breathe evenly into BOTH lungs?  Or tend to fill one side more than the other? 

(Not breathing evenly, back muscles are not working/stretching evenly.)

  • When you inhale do you lift your shoulders up around your ears, or is the ribcage lifting and the shoulders are just riding along on the lift of the cage?

(If you’re actively hiking your shoulders up, you’re jamming your head/neck into your body compressing the cervical spine.)

Since so many people these days have forward head posture your poor neck and shoulder muscles are already on over-drive to keep your head from falling off your body, which is a part of why your shoulders want to hike up to begin with and why you may be dealing with neck pain, mid-back pain or both.

Poor neck! Poor shoulders! Poor back!  Have I gotten your attention yet?

Posted by administrator in Back Pain, Breathing.

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.

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.