Pilates and Chronic PainPosted by Ian Kullhem on May 14, 2015
Chronic pain affects 100 million Americans and costs $600 billion a year in medical expenses and lost productivity. Beyond the staggering numbers, chronic pain can affect people at a personal level. Limited physical capabilities impact relationships—everyone from a spouse to children and friends. Unable to participate in activities that once gave one a sense of accomplishment or joy, chronic pain can lead to depression.
There isn’t a cure-all for all the various types of chronic pain, but there are methods for combating chronic pain. One solution is Pilates. Since Pilates is a low-impact form of exercise that uses multiple muscle groups and focuses heavily on core-strength as well as flexibility, it is becoming a go-to method for many people to manage chronic pain.
Adaptation and Diagnosing Chronic Pain
The human body is intricately connected on many levels and at the same time is amazingly adaptive. A single injury can cause rippling effects throughout the rest of your body as muscles and joints strive to adapt to accommodate for the weakness and pain in an afflicted area. Unfortunately, adapting for weakness in one area can cause other side effects.
One of the first measures to take is to see your physician. Diagnosis of chronic pain is essential before commencing any workout or exercise. It can be worth getting a second opinion as well. (True story: A man complaining of chronic stiffness in his arm was diagnosed as having a tooth infection. Once he saw his dentist to repair the cracked tooth and resolve the infection, the pain in his elbow went away.)
Pilates for Balance, Strength and Pain Alleviation
The adaptive nature of the human body is what makes Pilates such an effective tool to combat chronic pain. The focus on creating balanced bodies from top to bottom and side to side encourages lagging muscles to reactivate. The engagement of lagging muscles to once again get active can help alleviate pain throughout the rest of your body as you gain strength and achieve a balanced core and extremities.
Chronic Back Pain Therapy
Pilates has been so effective for people who suffer from chronic back pain that the practice of Pilates is now considered one of the best forms of therapy for patients with chronic back pain. The improved core stability often produces the spinal support needed to alleviate chronic back pain.
Interestingly, new research has also shown that the majority of fibromyalgia patients (who often suffer such severe chronic pain and fatigue that many tend to shy away from all forms of exercise) have experienced a 50% decrease in pain levels simply by incorporating physical therapy and low-impact aerobic exercise. Patients generally start with 3-5 minutes of exercise three times a week and ultimately achieve 30 minutes of exercise four times a week.
Pilates has proven to be effective for many fibromyalgia patients as it not only focuses on strength and flexibility, but it also emphasizes breathing techniques. Deep breathing increases circulation to all regions of the body, helping muscles to relax. This decreases unnecessary tension in the muscular structure and can ultimately lead to a dramatic reduction in pain.
To date, Pilates has been underutilized as a treatment for chronic pain.
Visit Us to Feel Better
At Pilates in the Pines, our instructors are imbibed in training to help students recover from many types of injuries and chronic pain. Above all, it is absolutely essential to work with a licensed Pilates professional to get accurate instruction to prevent further damage.
Contact us to schedule an individual class or see our course calendar at Pilates in the Pines for walk in sessions.