What is causing your back pain?
Back pain affects 80% of the adult population. That means that most people will experience lower back pain at some point in their lives. Yet back pain can be simple to prevent and cure. Back pain is the most common cause of job-related disability and a leading contributor to missed work days. Chronic back pain is long-term pain which can last for months or even longer. This blog will outline the causes of back pain and the simple ways you can reduce it.
Your lifestyle contributes to back pain.
Lifestyle patterns of sitting and standing create your back pain. Blunt I know. Injury can create muscle imbalances however bad posture is more likely to create debilitating back pain. Preventable back pain that can be cured simply with great posture.
Sitting badly or even walking awkwardly will create bad muscle patterns and firing. Sitting in uncomfortable positions for long periods of time affect your back. This pain is compounded when you then have a strenuous workout.
“Sedentary lifestyles also can set the stage for low back pain, especially when a weekday routine of getting too little exercise is punctuated by a strenuous weekend workout.” National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Strokes
Good posture needs to be worked upon whilst sitting, standing and walking.
Posture is essential for good health.
Your body should align as a straight plumb line down the side of your body from your ear through your shoulder, down through your hip to your ankle. Your ankle should line up with your little toe and your second and third toe line up with the middle of your knee.
Pilates is obsessive about every action being inline and accurate. Pure Pilates and basic Pilates originally only concentrated on one plane of movement, the sagittal plane which is forward and backwards, like all disciplines it has been updated and Adele’s Pilates and work on every plane of movement to improve your body for every eventuality in life.
Bad posture will affect your life.
In the exact way that your emotions are the key to your emotional health, your aches and pains are the clues to your physical health. A slightly annoying, recurring headache or foot pain is your body talking to you. Your body, once heard, is very noisy and a mind-body discipline will get you closer to hearing and noticing what your body is saying.
Remedial exercise like Pilates is vital for your health. Functional exercise is an exercise that allows you to become fit for life. To be able to move quickly, turn abruptly, swivel, twist, hang, jump and run at a moments notice. Practice these functional moves in a class and every day and your entire life will be different. You will be pain-free and flexible to run, walk, skip, play tennis, pick up kids, shift fridges, play and generally have fun with life.
Exercise is a tiny part of your body’s health. If you are going to the gym three times a week don’t kid yourself that you are fit. Movement is a daily activity and includes walking daily (minimum 10k steps) as well as the gym and great posture. The gym does not tick your healthy activity box. In fact, treadmill running is counterproductive. It holds you in the same position for long periods of time, and that is the definition of RSI is it not?
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Static gym machines are not ideal unless of course, you want to hang out with smelly teenagers or buff men, now there is a thought. Use free weights at home, the multiple loads and tensions on your body are much more beneficial to your shoulder and joint health. Static weights on a machine ‘stresses’ your body in the same plain of movement – again RSI.
Bad postures increase osteoporosis risk
Osteoporosis is my big concern and one of the reasons I won’t dabble in removing milk and dairy from my diet. Of course, you can obtain calcium from dark green leafy vegetables such as broccoli, kale, cabbage and watercress. Dried fruits, nuts, seeds, pulses (peas, beans and lentils) are all excellent sources of calcium.
Weight-bearing exercise is essential for bone health and even posture can affect your bone density. If you are constantly stooping forward your gorgeous body will notice that your back doesn’t have any forces to deal with and therefore stop providing bone formations to your shoulders and upper back. Your body will leak bone density simple because you are practising bad posture daily. Your body is efficient it won’t work or waste energy if you are not using it. If you are not using your shoulders, or upper back for upright posture and strength then your body will efficiently decline to add any bone density.
Bad postures created back pain.
As a biomechanics instructor (aka Pilates teacher) I am staggered by the postures, aches, pains and debilitating deportment I see regularly. An athletic runner stiffly shuffled into class recently and explained that her colleagues ridiculed her posture, she felt she “should do something”. Rigid, in her mid-40s she had won a lot of running events and was incredibly proud of her PBs (personal bests) running times. They were super impressive. Although my jaw was dropping, and the thought running in my head was “How long are you going to be able to do this for? Your running career will be over very soon. Ligaments will snap. Tight hamstrings and quads will push your hips out of place creating knee ache, backaches. Misalignment from undue stresses and loads throughout her whole body.”
During the course of the class sadly the stretches were too much for her she didn’t last more than a few terms. Pilates movements proved to be too painful because her body had got so used to running, one form of exercise. Running was successful as she saw it, so why move through painful stretches? I could see her point, but my brain was screaming “longevity. What are you going to be able to do 5 years from now?”
Another interesting classmate is Henry, he came to class in a similarly tight spot, his wife had encouraged and cajoled and shouted and he finally he arrived. The class love Wilf, he is an ex-footballer, long legs, great personality and always willing to heckle from the back. He stayed and has improved miraculously. His body type is a ‘back pain’ classic, tall, long legs, long levers and played football all through his youth with no stretching. The Pilates moves were tough for him, but with grit, determination and a lot of women watching. It did the trick.
Improve your posture
“Normal,” or general exercise for want of a better word, is interested in the big levers — the big muscles groups close to the skin. They are called the global muscles or even the superficial muscles. Your quads, six pack, pecs. The muscles that make you look good, Pilates, on the other hand, is interested in the internal muscles, the muscles called the stabilisers that hold you upright. To activate your stabilisers you need to balance, on one leg. You need to use plyometrics, pushing off quickly from the floor or equipment.
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Pilates is a way of life that will improve your life
Pilates is fundamentally about integration: integrating movement into a flowing whole body experience and integrating the mind and body to create clarity and purpose. By integrating your mind with your body you will rejuvenate your spirit and will be on your way to creating a life of balance.
If you are interested in a little more Pilates practice or homework join me for a Pilates class at home
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