An estimated 75%-85% of Americans will experience lower back pain at some time in their lifetime, contributing an enormous cost to our healthcare system as well as placing a tremendous physical and emotional burden on patients and their families. Over the last several years, a growing number of people are turning to holistic forms of exercise, including Pilates and yoga, as methods of both rehabilitating and preventing future episodes of low back pain.
Why Pilates and yoga?
Pilates and yoga are similar forms of movement therapy that emphasize postural awareness, pain-free movement, balancing strength with flexibility, and use of the breath to improve quality of movement. Pilates-based exercise may involve the use of unique equipment that can be adapted to either reduce or increase the difficulty of a particular exercise. Yoga generally does not require equipment beyond a mat, blanket, and/or small block. Therefore, it is a wonderful way for patients to be able to maintain or build upon gains made during physical therapy with a home program.
Because the potential sources of low back pain are many, a patient’s Pilates and/or yoga-based therapy should specifically target their individual limitations and weakness, and avoid movements that are potentially harmful to their condition. Physical therapists with training in Pilates and/or yoga can help patients choose the exercises or movements that will be most beneficial to them.