Pilates and yoga rock as complementary forms of exercise, and over the last few years have become really popular in health-conscious areas like Sydney. But over the last few years I have treated an increasing number of injuries relating directly and indirectly from yoga and Pilates exercises.
Here are a few sure-fire ways to avoid a painful (and potentially harmful) experience.
- Are you injured or do you have a history of injury? If so an assessment from a Pilates-trained physiotherapist is strongly recommended. In particular, spinal pain is an indicator that you may need guidance. Spinal pain is a red-flag that something isn’t right, so go and get checked!
- The basics are everything: Familiarise yourself with basic concepts such as the neutral pelvic position and how to correctly switch your core and pelvic floor musculature on. I have treated individuals who have been doing Pilates incorrectly for years and wonder why they now have spinal pain.
- Are you new to exercise? If this is the case it is best to get clearance from your G.P and physiotherapist before you start. I know, I know – you’ve heard it all before, but it’s smart to do so.
- Do you suffer from joint hyper-mobility? Hyper-mobility basically describes stretchy joints. This increased laxity in your joints requires a greater strength from your muscles to provide optimal joint stability. If you can already touch the floor with your hands you have nowhere else to go! Personally I think that individuals with hyper-mobility get better results with Pilates as the focus is more on the stability muscles in the body instead of stretching.
- Do you feel worse in certain postures of yoga or Pilates exercises? If so you may have a directional bias. This is when your body prefers one position over another. For example, can you stand up longer than you could sit? People with a history of lower back pain emanating from a lumbar disc problem tend to experience pain from prolonged bending. Therefore, prolonged bending in yoga or Pilates usually make these symptoms worse.
Don’t get me wrong – this isn’t meant to be an attack on yoga or Pilates! I practice both, and enjoy them equally. But It is really important to make sure that you have a pain-free experience. So go forth and enjoy…
Have you tried Pilates or yoga? How did you like it? What benefits did you see? Tell us below.