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A recent poll conducted by Harris Interactive revealed that millions of Americans are taking up core-strengthening exercises, including Pilates and yoga to improve function at work, home, or on the playing field. The associated strength and flexibility exercises have also proven to be effective in preventing back pain by teaching you proper spinal alignment, reducing the risk for back injuries.
Everyone is prone to back pain
Many people, including the active and inactive ones have either upper or lower back pain, which is partly caused by weak abdominal and Gluteal muscles. Sedentary people who spend a lot of time sitting down at work and at home cause their hamstring and iliopsoas muscles to be shortened, resulting in strain on the lower back.
Conversely, active people engaging in weight-bearing exercises or sports that involve rapid dynamic movements, jumping, or running can experience tension on the lower back due to overuse injury if they repeat these activities over time without stretching properly to release tight muscles.
How Pilates and Yoga help
Although Pilates (the use of apparatus/mats to perform muscle strengthening exercises) and yoga (combination of body poses and breathing techniques) use different methods – flow of movements versus static poses – both develop posture, strength, flexibility, balance, and good breathing technique by establishing a connection between physical and mental health.
Studies show that the use of pilates reformer allows people with nonspecific back pain to perform core-strengthening exercises with support, providing pain relief. But for Pilates to be effective, they should be tailored to your specific needs and evaluated by a qualified health professional.
Similarly, holding positions in yoga helps to increase strength in certain muscles and muscle groups, including back and abdominal muscles that are essential for supporting your spine, reducing the risk for injuring or straining your back muscles.
Both exercises incorporate stretching and relaxation exercises that promote flexibility and relaxation in muscles and joints, such as the hamstring muscles, increasing blood flow and nourishment of the muscles and decreasing stress across the lower back.
Other than developing core strength, these exercises train the body to be flexible and healthy, resulting in an increased sense of balance and improved posture that helps you steer clear of back pain.
Stress, anxiety, and other negative psychological and emotional factors can magnify an existing problem. Pilates and yoga help people to focus their energy on methodical breathing and coordinated breathing that is said to dissipate anxiety and stress, relieving back pain associated with negative emotional factors.
Find a good instructor
As helpful as Pilates and yoga core-strengthening exercises may be, it is important to understand how incorrect technique or simple mistakes can cause or aggravate back pain. So, take your time to find a good instructor for your core-strength program.