5 Reasons why you should join a Pilates class!

Over recent years there has been a huge increase in Physiotherapy clinics offering Pilates classes as an option for treatment.  Whether it’s lower back pain, pre or post pregnancy, poor flexibility or poor core strength, Pilates has been shown to have a range of benefits for a number of different conditions.

Firstly….a little bit of background on what a Pilates class usually involves. Pilates is an exercise based class which focuses on breathing control, muscle activation, movement control and mental concentration to improve the strength in areas surrounding the pelvis and spine, namely the ‘core’. There is also a focus on flexibility and improving lean muscle tone to allow your body to function in the way it was designed. This focus on the bodies’ ‘core’ is the reason Pilates is great for injury prevention, injury rehabilitation, pre and post pregnancy and general fitness and well-being.

So maybe you’re wondering if you should join a Pilates class and whether or not it can help with your pain, weakness or postural issue. If that’s you, then go ahead and read on as we give you 5 reasons why you should consider signing up!

 

 

  1. You have had trouble with lower back pain at some stage in your life

 

Lower back pain affects up to 80% of people at some stage in their life. Pilates has been shown to help with treatment of sub-acute and chronic lower back pain. This is secondary to improvements in core strength and stability, gluteal and lower back strength, lower limb flexibility and thoracic and lumbar mobility. Pilates also plays a role in learning correct activation of postural muscles and increasing the endurance capacity of these muscles via strengthening work.

Low back pain should be treated similarly to any other injury and requires proper rehabilitation to prevent re-injury….this means restoring range of motion, improving biomechanics, strengthening surrounding muscle groups and restoring functional capacity. Pilates can be a great way to achieve this rehabilitation in a group setting on a weekly or fortnightly basis. Pilates can also be easily tailored to individual needs to ensure the program is at the right level of difficulty for your ability.

 

 

 

  1. You get postural pains or sit at a desk all day

So what about all of you who sit at a desk or stand all day at work? Maybe you notice you regularly get neck, shoulder or upper back pain. In the clinic we hear this type of thing all the time and it could be due to poor postural positioning or potentially weak or tight postural muscles.

Pilates is great for combatting postural issues as one of the main focuses is teaching correct activation patterns of postural and stabiliser muscles as well as strengthening and stretching.

The body consists of two general types of muscles… muscles with high endurance capacity and also bigger global muscles which have a better power capacity. The core is more like the former endurance muscles, which are required to activate for long periods of time. If these muscles aren’t activating effectively, the bigger global muscles are required to switch on to perform this job. The problem is that these muscles fatigue much quicker resulting in dysfunction and therefore pain. Thus Pilates aims to target the endurance capacity and strength of these muscles allowing them to better perform their role!

 

 

  1. Your fitness goals include improving your flexibility and joint range of motion

In the clinic I’ve heard these types of comments a thousand times… “ive never been flexible’ or “I have had stiff joints for a while now”.  Unfortunately improving flexibility and joint mobility takes time and effort. There’s no magic fix! During Pilates there is some focus on static stretching, dynamic stretching, foam rolling along with joint mobility work. This mobility work includes joints through the thoracic and lumbar spine, not just joints such as the shoulder and knee.

Pilates also has a role in teaching the body to access this new mobility and how to effectively use muscles within this range to achieve maximum performance.

So if one of your complaints is upper back stiffness, neck tightness, tight hamstrings or general joint stiffness for example then yes, Pilates is good for you.

 

 

  1. You want to improve your core strength and stability

You’ve probably heard of the bodies’ core being referred to as a powerhouse… but why? The core is simply the base off which your limbs are able to move and includes all muscles which attach to the trunk of the body, allowing for stability and also force transmission between limbs. Every movement that you make during the day involves the core to some degree including simply taking a breath! If the core isn’t utilised effectively you have a greater chance of almost every type of injury.

Pilates will teach you how to effectively activate and strengthen your core (your deep core muscles not your abdominals) and correctly perform trunk stability and mobility exercises.

 

 

 5. You want to be involved in weekly low intensity exercise

Are you looking for some sort of physical activity which doesn’t involve you slaving away at the gym working up a sweat? Maybe your GP is recommending you perform some regular exercise. Although Pilates shouldn’t be used as your only form of exercise, it’s great for one or two of your weekly exercise sessions.

Even though you’re not smashing away at the gym, your Pilates instructor can still get your muscles burning. Pilates is more targeted and controlled exercise and will often target muscles which you don’t usually work out in your normal exercise regimes. You will probably discover a whole new set of muscles and muscular soreness you have never experienced before.

So hopefully now you’ve got a bit of a better idea of what Pilates is and can see the many benefits that you can gain! Not only will it help with the above list but can also assist with balance, gluteal activation, gluteal control and strength, improved muscular endurance, women’s health and breathing techniques!

If you’re interested in giving Pilates a go or would like some more information then give us a call on 9871 2022 (Carlingford) or 9672 6752 (Kellyville) to join a class. Our Pilates timetable is also available under the Pilates tab on our website.

Is it true that my headache could be coming from my neck?

As Physio’s we often have patients complaining of neck issues such as stiffness or pain which they believe is accompanied by some sort of ache or tension around their head or face…. So is it true that some types of headaches are actually caused by some dysfunction in the neck?

It seems to be more common knowledge now that yes your neck can be the source of your headache, so in this blog we’ll explore neck related headaches and how likely it is that your headache is one of these!

We’ll also give you some tips for treatment and some things you can try at home to help ease your pain!

Remember if you’re concerned about your pain or have experienced your pain for a few consecutive days make sure you consult your Physio or GP!

 

 

 

 

What is it?

Cervicogenic headache is a syndrome characterised by pain around the head or face that is referred from a source in the neck. Often this pain is referred from the soft tissue or bony structures.

The prevalence of this type of headache in the general population is only around 2-4%. They are most common around the age of 40 and are 4 times more likely in females than males. They can also affect quality of life to the same extent as migraines! The most common factors related to these headaches are mental stress and poor neck position (posture, weak or tight muscles).

 

The mechanism of this pain is thought to arise from a crossover of information from the nerves supplying the neck and those that supply the head and face. This occurs with a convergence between the sensory fibres from the upper cervical nerve roots and trigeminal nerve fibres.  This basically means that although the source of pain is a joint, muscle or ligament in the neck, your body is PERCEIVING the pain in the head or face!

 

How do I know if my headache is coming from an issue in my neck?

The features of cervicogenic headaches can be similar to that of other headache disorders such as tension type or migraine. So how do we determine if the source of pain is from the neck?

The following criteria are more likely associated with cervicogenic type headaches but it is important to remember that you may be suffering from more than one type of headache at any given time.

 

 

Cervicogenic headache signs/symptoms:

  • Head pain is aggravated by neck movement or poor neck postures
  • Head pain is exacerbated by external pressure over the upper cervical/occipital region
  • Reduced neck movement
  • Neck/shoulder/arm pain on the same side as the headache
  • One sided head or face pain without change of sides
  • Intermittent attacks of pain lasting hours to days
  • Moderate to severe pain intensity that is non-throbbing

 

 

 

 

Treatment

To successfully treat cervicogenic headaches your physiotherapist will perform a complete assessment to determine the source of the pain and whether there may be a secondary source.  It is relatively common to suffer these headaches along with other non-specific neck pain as well as other headache types.

Successful treatment often involves the combination of pharmacologic and physical/manual therapy. Studies support the use of therapeutic exercise along with soft tissue therapy in the short term treatment of this condition as well as good results in the long term prevention and control of headaches.

 

How can a physiotherapist help with my headaches??

  • Mobilisation and manipulation aimed at restoring the range of motion in cervical spine joints particularly in the upper joints
  • Soft tissue techniques to alleviate tight musculature or release responsive muscles
  • Dry needling
  • Targeted exercise program aimed at restoring range of motion, stretching tight musculature, improving strength
  • Pilates
  • Posture correction
  • Ergonomic assessment

 

What can I do myself to help decrease my pain?

  • Avoid prolonged positions eg sitting at work
  • Maintain good posture in standing and sitting
  • Maintain adequate strength and flexibility in the shoulder and neck region
  • Self-release upper back/neck muscles
  • Try to manage mental stress   

 

So where to from here? Do your symptoms appear similar to what we’ve talked about in this blog? Maybe your headaches are actually coming from a neck issue instead of just a chronic headache which seems to keep coming back. Instead of reaching for the pain killer next time, try Physio!

Gym Ball Exercises

Did you know your gym ball is for more than just sitting on?

There are a whole range of exercises you can try to get the most out of your gym ball with little to no extra equipment needed. We have put together 3 videos to help start you off with some exercises. Each video will focus on a separate body area – lower body, upper body and abdominals.

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