21 September 2008

Pilates exercises strengthen the spine

According to Statistics Canada, back problems are among the most common chronic conditions in Canada. Four out of five adults will experience at least one episode of back pain at some time in their lives. The cause of back pain, however, is not always apparent. In fact, in approximately 85 to 90 per cent of individuals with back pain, no specific cause can be identified. Contributing factors include poor muscle tone, especially in the back and abdominal muscles, sedentary lifestyle, obesity, smoking, poor posture, and in particular, improper or heavy lifting.

You cannot build a house without a strong foundation, and you cannot build a strong body without a strong spine. If you have a bad back and you are not getting relief through other forms of treatment, my professional suggestion would be to start an exercise program called Pilates. The Pilates Method is a physical fitness system developed in the early 20th century by Joseph Pilates in Germany. Pilates called his method Contrology, because he believed that his method uses the mind to control the muscles. The program focuses on the core postural muscles which help keep the body balanced and which are essential to providing support for the spine. In particular, Pilates exercises teach awareness of breath and alignment of the spine, and aim to strengthen the deep torso muscles. Pilates is a very beginner-friendly fitness method. With the help of a teacher, clients perform strength, flexibility and range of motion exercises on specially designed equipment and/or mat classes. Class prices range from $12.00 per class to $60.00 per class for private instruction.

With over 15 years of experience in personal training and 10 years specializing in Pilates, I have seen countless clients with chronic back pain. With patience, persistence and the right teacher, I have also seen countless clients regain their life back through the practice of Pilates.

For more information, please contact Michelle Barker at pilates@telus.net or The Gym on Bowen. Michelle is a recent resident on Bowen Island and she loves it!

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