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Back pain is a major health issue in our country.  It is estimated that 60-80% of adults will experience low back pain (LBP) at some point in their lives and low back pain accounts for millions of dollars in health care costs.  According to research studies, core stabilization programs have been shown to significantly reduce chronic LBP by 39-76% and muscular strengthening programs can reduce it by 61.6%.  According to recent research studies, Pilates was found to significantly improve back pain, as well as hamstring and low back flexibility for patients diagnosed with non-specific chronic low back pain. 

The Pilates method of exercise was developed by Joseph Pilates in the early 1900's when he was interned in England.  He named his exercise "Contrology" and defined it as "complete coordination of body, mind and spirit."  The focus of his exercises was on developing the core stabilizing muscles of the abdomen, which then provided the rest of the body the ability to move freely and with increased ease and flexibility. 

Today, Pilates exercises are taught in a variety of settings including; private studios, gyms and even physical therapy facilities.  

Benefits of Pilates:

  • Mind-body workout
  • Development of a strong core
  • Improves overall flexibility
  • Increases postural awareness
  • Creates a more balanced and efficient body through the use of whole body activation
  • Gentle, low impact activity which can be modified for all different individuals

 Pilates exercises emphasize core stabilization training and proper recruitment of the transversus abdominis, oblique muscles, multifidus, and pelvic floor muscles.  The transversus abdominis and internal oblique muscles attach to the thoracolumbar fascia and help to increase the stiffness of the tissue, which helps to enhance core stability.  These muscles also help the spine to resist various stresses which aides in reducing low back pain.  Pilates exercises also stress proper breathing techniques, as well as, correct spinal and pelvic alignment by teaching the client a neutral spine position and improving postural awareness.  Exercises are performed with a strong emphasis on the quality of the movement, proper control and coordination of whole body movements. 

As with any exercise program, before starting it is best to ensure that the instructor is certified in the Pilates exercise method and has an understanding of specific back problems.  It is also best to start with several one-on-one sessions, in order to learn proper form and technique for the exercises. 

Talk to your PT today about whether Pilates is right for you!

Jennifer Buono, PT, DPT and certified Pilates instructor

References:

www.pilates.com

Siler, Brooke.  Your Ultimate Pilates Body Challenge. New York, 2006.

www.mdpi.com/journal/healthcare : A Systematic Review of the Effects of Exercise and Physical Activity on Non-Specific Chronic Low Back Pain (2016).

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What is it?

Osteoporosis is a progressive disease in which decreased bone strength increases the risk of bone fractures. It is the most common cause of broken bones in the elderly. Unfortunately, it is a nearly silent disease until a fracture occurs. Bones may weaken to such a degree that they can break with minor stress or even spontaneously. Chronic pain and reduced function often occur following a break.

Who and Why?

Osteoporosis affects approximately 70% of those over age 80 and 15% of Caucasian people in their 50's. It tends to affect more women than men and is seen more predominantly in people with Caucasian or Asian backgrounds. Bone loss increases after menopause which is seen as the major cause in women, however, bone loss may occur as a result of a number of other diseases or treatments. This includes alcoholism, anorexia, hyperthyroidism, surgical removal of the ovaries and kidney disease to name a few. Additionally, not getting enough exercise and smoking are also risk factors.

Symptoms

Often there are no symptoms until a fracture occurs. The wrist, hip, shoulder and spine are the most common fracture sites. Compression fractures of the spine may result in back pain, radiating nerve pain as well as the often seen stooped posture.

Prevention and Treatment

Efforts to prevent the disease and fractures include a good diet, proper exercise (including resistance training and weight bearing exercises), fall prevention education, lifestyle changes (i.e. smoking cessation) and sometimes medications.

Physical Therapy can play an important role in the management of your osteoporosis, whether it is in the form of prevention of injury or in the healing process after an injury. PT's can assist in helping you be maximally active in a safe manner with proper exercises, teach you proper bending/lifting techniques as well as fall prevention strategies. They may also help treat symptoms after a fracture in order to relieve pain, improve postural habits and help prevent future fractures. A Physical Therapist can be one of your best allies in your efforts to have a long, healthy, active life.

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Zzzzzzzz

1 of every 3 Americans doesn't get enough sleep on a regular basis

The month of March is designated as National Sleep Awareness Month.  As our clocks spring forward one hour with the return of Daylight Saving Time, it is important to consider how a small change in our sleep can affect our health.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 of every 3 Americans doesn't get enough sleep on a regular basis.  The recommended amount of sleep varies depending on age, as well as, other factors. According to the American Sleep Association, infants should get around 16 hours of sleep, teenagers need about 9 hours, while adults should get between 7-8 hours a night. 

Unfortunately, about 35% of US adults are sleeping less than 7 hours a night.  Getting less than the recommended 7 hours a night has been associated with increased risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke.  Chronic sleep deprivation has many other negative effects on our bodies and minds including:

  • Increased reaction times
  • Weakened immune system with increased susceptibility to illness
  • Insufficient time for cellular regeneration and repair
  • Decreased growth hormone secretion which can impair injury recovery and wound healing
  • Cognitive impairments such as memory lapses, impaired judgement

 

Fortunately there are steps we can take to help improve our sleep.   Here is a list of tips for better sleep hygiene.

  1. Have a sleep schedule – go to bed and wake up at approximately the same time each day (+/- 20 minutes)
  2. Create a pre-bedtime routine to help calm the body and mind.
  3. Don’t watch TV or read in bed.  Reserve the bedroom for sleeping.
  4. Create a comfortable environment.  – Keep the temperature cooler, the room dark, and have a comfortable mattress
  5. Don't stay in bed awake for more than 5-10 minutes.  If you are having trouble falling asleep get up and move around or sit quietly in the dark before trying again.
  6. Avoid daytime naps if possible – they can disrupt your ability to fall asleep later
  7. Avoid cigarettes, alcohol and over the counter medications as they may fragment sleep
  8. Be careful with caffeinated beverages – their effects can last hours after ingestion and can fragment sleep.  Try to drink them before noon.
  9. Exercise regularly – but avoid vigorous exercise right before bedtime.

 Getting adequate sleep is critical to our overall physical and mental health and wellbeing.  For more information check out the websites listed below.

 

Resources:

www.sleep.org

www.sleepassociation.org

www.webmd.com

www.fatiguescience.com

www.sleepfoundation.org

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Disclaimer:  The information in this medical library is intended for informational and educational purposes only and in no way should be taken to be the provision or practice of physical therapy, medical, or professional healthcare advice or services. The information should not be considered complete or exhaustive and should not be used for diagnostic or treatment purposes without first consulting with your physical therapist, physician or other healthcare provider. The owners of this website accept no responsibility for the misuse of information contained within this website.