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Bridge to Health Blog
Bridge to Health Blog

Stand up to chronic pain with Pilates

Written by Jenny Middleton   Posted in:Pilates   November 19, 2018

Stand up to chronic pain with Pilates

Often, by the time a client starts Pilates sessions with me, they have already been in pain for months - if not years.  When asked why they haven’t looked to help themselves before now, the answer is usually because they haven’t had the time.
These long term (chronic) pains that are often reported can be in any area of the body.  They are often such things as muscle tension in the shoulders and back, joint pains in the knees or hips or nerve pain such as sciatica.  All have a severe impact on a person’s quality of life.
Chronic pain is categorised as “pain that persists past normal healing time”. Usually pain is regarded as chronic when it lasts, or reoccurs, for more than 3 to 6 months. It is a common condition which affects an estimated 20% of people worldwide.   
When the body registers pain it triggers your natural fight or flight response and that in turn makes your muscles contract, your breath shorten, your heart rate rise and causes your posture to compress. When your muscles tighten there is less sensation in the body, but there is also less circulation and movement.
Being in continual pain is not only hard to live with but if the problem goes unaddressed it may well lead to disturbed sleep, depression or anxiety.  But do you have to just put up with it? Absolutely not!
Pilates can help break the pain cycle by helping you to have a better understanding of your body, and by equipping you with valuable lessons that you can apply in your everyday life whenever you need them - and you may find you see the results from it quicker than you think.
Joseph Pilates has been quoted as saying: “In 10 sessions you will feel the difference.  In 20 sessions you will see the difference.  In 30 sessions you will have a new body.”
How Pilates can help to break the cycle:


  • Relaxation: Learning how to move the body without undue tension helps the body relax tense muscles and helps with the compression of the spine which affects posture.
  • Flowing Movements: Helps relax tight muscles.
  • Concentration: Being mindful of your movements and focusing on everything that is being required of you whilst practicing Pilates often creates a ‘pain free’ space.
  • Stamina: This improves muscle strength and blood circulation.
  • Coordination: Working on your coordination can help to regain certain functions as we encourage full range of movement. It is often noted that as range improves pain is decreased.
  • Centering: We start each Pilates exercise with a strong centre, and when we do this it is like we are wearing a corset! This means that our spine is tall and being easily supported by all the core muscles, relieving pressure on our muscles and joints.
  • Alignment: Standing tall with equal weight going through both feet and with the bones stacked well. This reduces stress on joints in particular.
  • Breathing: Doing our lateral thoracic breathing lowers blood pressure, lowers heart rate and massages all the internal organs with each full breath.

If you are suffering from chronic pain and would like to make a change, start by being mindful of your movements and your positions and try to move a little more… big changes come from small beginnings.

Please contact the team for more information on the Pilates classes available at Bridge to Health.


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