Non-specific low back pain affects most people at some time through their life and is one of the most common conditions we treat in the clinic each day.
Pilates has become an increasingly popular treatment in physiotherapy practices and one that we find particularly useful for our patients. But what does the literature say?
A recent study led by Helen Llewellyn of Leeds Beckett University in the UK looked at The Effect of a Pilates Exercise Programme on Perceived Disability and Pain Associated with Non-Specific Chronic Low Back Pain.
Helen and her colleagues found that patients who participated in a Pilates exercise program twice a week for 6 weeks had less pain and perceived disability, along with increased core muscle endurance and lumbar flexbility at the end of the program.
It was also found the the Pilates program was well tolerated by the majority of the participants in the study. This is especially important given the nature of chronic low back pain and the tendency of those suffering from it to avoid physical activity for fear of aggravating their symptoms.
How does Pilates work?
As stated in the article, Pilates focuses on the principals of “centring, postural alignment, co-ordination, concentration, breathing, precision and movement sequencing”. This allows for poor movement patterns to be practiced in isolation then incorporated back into functional movements and activities of daily living.
We see people who suffer with chronic low back pain every day and whether they are conscious of it or not, all have movements they are fearful or apprehensive of. This leads to compensatory muscle and movement patterns that can begin a vicious cycle of overuse and pain. By breaking down and practicing components of these movements with Pilates, the fear of movement can be removed and pain and disability can be improved.
So what’s the verdict?
This study shows that Pilates is a safe and well-tolerated form of exercise that can improve pain, perceived function, range of motion and core muscle endurance for those with chronic low back pain. We also find that the small class environment at North West Physiotherapy Keperra makes people feel comfortable and relaxed and there is always plenty of laughter coming from our Pilates studio.
So if you suffer from chronic low back pain, it may be time to give Pilates a go!