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Spine solutions.... it could be just what you need!

The spine is made up of 33 ring like bones called vertebrae, these are then linked by a series of mobile joints. Sandwiched between the vertebrae are shock absorbing discs.

There are 3 main types of vertebrae - cervical in the neck which has 7 bones, thoracic in upper back which has 12 and the lumar in the lower back which has 5. There are also two other areas at the base of the spine, the sacrum which is a wedge shape and the coccyx which is tail like, both of these are made up of several fused bones. (9 in total)

The spine should curve naturally in 4 places. This helps is be resilient and assists us to maintain balance. Abnormal curves can be down to poor posture, which is a common reason why people come to Pilates, congenital or bone disease.

For those that suffer with back problems like myself with my L4 and L5, you can find you spine coming out of alignment and this then transfers into pain and muscle contractions across the back.

The spine is designed to be flexible with more movement forwards than back. Stong ligaments and muscles surround the spine to stabilize the vertebrae and help control movement. When you suffer from back problems these muscles can tighten and spasm, which can be extremely painful.

Pilates is a superb way of maintaining your backs health. However, I believe strongly that we should always seek the advice of a professional if you have been suffering with long term back pain.

I myself make visits to my chiropractor to make sure my L4 and L5 are in place and it is part of my long term back health plan. I then manage my condition with regular Pilates.

Pilates has now become my medicine, yes I still do get nasty flare ups; that is sadly something I have to live with. Even worse that they tend to come totally out of the blue. However, these are less frequent and the recovery is far quicker than it was before I did this form of exercise.

What Pilates does is work on the muscles that surround and support your spine. I get my Chiropractor to work on the bones and structure and its then up to me to make sure I work on the rest.

You will often hear me in class talk about muscle attachments, tightness and how it transfers up and down your body. Without using the technical terms we work on reducing muscle tightness, building strength around those muscles that support our bodies and increase mobility.

For anyone who suffers, like me with a life long problem that we simply have to learn to live with there may be a better solution to help you mange that pain:-

1. Go to a chiropractor. The GP will refer you to physio but from experience a good chiropractor is worth their weight in gold.

2. Try Pilates 1-2 times a week. You will be amazed how a series of simple stretches on a regular basis will help.

There are more and more men coming to class now which is great to see. Just because Pilates is gentle does not mean is for woman alone. A lot of men really suffer from a very weak core and its only when they come to class they realise how much core work can help them.

3. Walk - yep, go for a walk. Walking is superb for back pain, even if its just go around the block. Try and get up and mobile.

Good luck, keep stretching and keep moving,

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