A chronic condition, according to the NHS, is defined as a long-term physical health condition or problem that needs management over a period of years or even decades. One that cannot be currently cured but can be controlled with the use of medication and/or other therapies.
It has become more recognised and accepted that Pilates can pay an important part in a client’s treatment plan when it comes to managing their ongoing condition. Working alongside other health professionals’ benefits can have a hugely positive impact on their life.
Benefits of Pilates for Chronic Pain
Pilates exercises for chronic pain work by enhancing the primary muscular support system of the body, to offload the joints and important structures of the body, ultimately leading to a reduction of pain. Pilates is great for chronic pain sufferers because exercises are low impact and increase muscle strength. They can also be altered to fit your ability level. Often your brain will move away from focusing on painful areas when it is busy concentrating on the body as a whole.
- Reduced or eliminated pain
- Great for injury recovery
- Increasing control over pain
- Create more efficient patterns of movement
- Better posture
- Less risk of injury
- Improved function making daily activities easier
- Greater feeling of well-being
- Increased confidence and independence
- Reduced muscle stiffness
- Improving joint mobility
- Increases flexibility
- Promote weight loss
How Safe is Pilates for Chronic Pain?
Many of the exercises require reclining or sitting positions. They are also low impact exercises that are only partial weight bearing. This is not a cardio workout. When doing Pilates, the focus is on the way the body moves, it is not about number of repetitions, and you don’t want to over stress your muscles. It’s not an exercise that is known to make you sweat, because it’s all about concentration and breathing. The exercises are safe, hence why so many physical therapy facilities use Pilates to rehabilitate after injuries.
Chronic conditions that can be helped with Pilates:
Chronic Low Back Pain - Pilates can help with chronic low back pain, because it strengthens your weak core muscles that often create pain. Pilates is so effective with chronic back pain that it is considered one of the best choices of therapy for people with back pain. However, it is always advisable to check with your doctor first before starting Pilates if you have an existing back condition.
Arthritis - Many people with arthritis are afraid to exercise because they are concerned about intensity. Pilates exercises are low-impact, gentle movements, that are purposeful, preventing stress on joints.
Fibromyalgia - Pilates is an excellent exercise for people with fibromyalgia. It is great for stability because it is a low-impact exercise, and it’s also good for breathing. Pilates emphasises breathing techniques to relax muscles and prevent tension. Breathing oxygenates blood and increases circulation to all regions of the body. Often people with fibromyalgia tend to disconnect from their bodies. Pilates is all about connection of the mind and body. It helps to prevent hyper-mobility and reduces the fatigue symptoms associated with fibromyalgia.
People with multiple sclerosis, heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes can participate in Pilates as well. As mentioned before, it is recommended to check with your doctor first.
Want to find out more?
Pilates is universal and almost all can benefit from it. If you are suffering from a chronic condition and would like to try Pilates to help make some positive changes, please give Jenny or the Bridge to Health team a call. We’d love to help.