80% of North Americans will experience back pain at some point in their life and since 1997, those experiencing back pain has increased year over year. Suffering from back pain is the worst and honestly, I don’t think there’s anything that makes you automatically feel older than you are than when your back is causing you grief.
We turn to our doctors, chiropractors, physiotherapists and really anyone who might help to take away the pain. And for the past 10 years, one message has been clear… Increase your core strength to decrease your back pain.
Except it’s not that simple, nor really all that accurate.
We are much more educated in core training as a society now than we were 10 years ago, yet back pain is still prevalent and as mentioned earlier, increasing. We do planks and bridges and crunches to make our core strong and yet back pain happens for those with a strong core as much as those with a weak core. Shocking, right?!
Let’s be clear, I am not telling you to stop strengthening your core and I am certainly not telling you to stop exercising but this is one of those over generalized statements that isn’t really helping you the way you think.
So what role does exercise, and more importantly fitilates, play in decreasing back pain?
Numerous studies have shown that back pain is reduced with many different forms of exercise, and that in fact, core endurance exercises are more likely to have a positive effect versus core strengthening.
Core endurance is increased with proper alignment of the body – in all forms of movements. With the amount of sitting we do and our plugged-in posture from using all our smart devices, our muscles and skeletal alignment are taking a beating. We then head into the gym for a workout and bring our bad posture along with us. fitilates, much like Pilates principles, teaches you how to properly align your spine, shoulders, ribs and pelvis to create movement that is more efficient, being kinder to your muscles and joints.
It’s important to note that we are dynamic beings and therefore our alignment must also be dynamic. We will call upon it to move in different ways depending on what we need but learning where neutral is is an important first step. Check out this video to learn how to position your pelvis in neutral and how this position relates to your spinal alignment:
The next time you work out, focus on creating proper alignment and core endurance instead of just core strength. After all, Joseph Pilates said it best:
“If your spine is inflexibly stiff at 30, you are old; if it is completely flexible at 60, you are young!”