Most Back Pain Can Be Relieved With Exercise
For decades Pilates instructors have been touting the rehabilitative benefits of core strength for relieving and even curing most back problems. Now science backs it up.
Eight out of every ten Americans will experience a back problem in the course of their lives. Common responses to back problems even among doctors are not helpful:
- Don’t exercise - it will only make it worse.
- Surgery or medication is the only solution.
- Thinking positive doesn’t make any difference.
Times Are Changing
Yes, things are changing – dramatically! Doctors are beginning to talk like Pilates instructors recommending core strength before pills or surgery. Here are the most recent findings of what really works when it comes to back pain.
The Importance of Exercise
Strength building exercise, particularly for the abdomen and lower back – your core as we say in Pilates - reduces pain for most back problems. In many cases, this process of strengthening the core actually cures the back altogether. This is the case with me.
I injured my lower back in my early twenties hauling heavy stone. Using Pilates alone I managed to avoid surgery and medication. Now in my 60's I still handle heavy stone as part of my job. My lower back still gets fatigued quickly and it's very susceptible to re-injury, but I avoid strain and injury by simply squeezing my buttocks before lifting anything, and keeping my core strong with a regular Pilates routine.
The idea of “core strength” was first envisioned by Joseph Pilates nearly a century ago and is now accepted by physical therapists as a major way to treat back problems.
Surgery Is the Last Resort
Though back surgery continues to be prescribed, there is little evidence of benefits according to recently published research in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Ninety percent of people with back pain will get better without any treatment or with non-invasive methods such as physical therapy, exercise, and medication. When surgery is used there is a low success rate and even a risk of making matters worse!
Mind Over Matter!
Most surprising of all, how you think about your back pain influences recovery. Studies show that your back pain can actually be eased if you don’t focus on it!
The Unique Effectiveness of Pilates
This is not to say that surgery is entirely unnecessary. It helps in certain cases, so the first step is to have your back problem checked. If physical therapy is suggested breathe a sigh of relief because you're about to be introduced to techniques first developed by Joseph Pilates nearly 100 years ago! And after your back problem has subsided add Pilates to your exercise routine – I do just 5 minutes most mornings to relieve morning back pain and stiffness. This short routine works for me and I share it here in case you wish to try it for yourself. I do it gently like a warm-up rather than a workout - let the 'dynamic stretch' do its magic! Just click the links for brief video lessons of each:
- 'Leg Circles' - just 3-5 of them gently with my leg bent.
- 'Single Leg & Double Leg Stretches' - 3-5. I just love these. I feel them right where my back is most vulnerable and as with Leg Circles I do them slowly.
- 'Crisscrosses' - 3-5.
And on those days when my back feels really good I add:
- 'Rolling' - again just 3-5 reps. I teach all these exercises and more in my free Beginners Lessons. Just signing up in the box at the top right.
- 'The 100' - I do the easy beginner version.
- 'Roll-Ups' - 3-5 of these Pilates sit ups, the gentle beginners' way.
That's my pain relieving routine and it only takes 5 minutes once you know the exercises. And it works every time for me. Try it.
The back pain relief I get from this simple morning routine enables me to do the entire Pilates workout 2-3 times a week. I get all the many benefits besides back relief. Once again, you can learn the entire Pilates Beginners mat exercises for free right here. Just sign up in the box at the top right, and I’ll deliver my first lesson right to your email within moments.
Start your journey today to better health and successful management of joint and back pain!
Don’t just take my word for it - read what doctors say: