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Low back surgery done. Can I do Pilates?

24th Oct, 2022

What is Pilates?

Pilates is a form of exercise and body conditioning developed by Joseph Pilates in the early 20th century, during his stint as a nurse in World War I where he experimented attaching springs to hospital beds in order for the injured soldiers to still maintain muscle tone while in bed. Over time, though, it became clear that the average person could benefit from this form of exercise. Our muscles get imbalanced because of overuse and what Pilates does is help to counteract that.

Some of the principles that guide the Pilates method include concentration on each movement, use of the abdomen and low back muscles, that are precise and a steady and controlled breathing. Depending on the exercise, Pilates routines can be performed on specially-designed apparatuses, including a bed-like structure called a reformer, or on a mat.

Pilates focuses more on muscle tone than building muscles and it specifically focuses on your core. With the core, besides the stomach area, we are also talking about your sides, your back and your hips. What happens in your core affects the rest of your body.

Breathing properly is one of the first things you will learn during Pilates as this will support the right activation of muscles as well as spinal movement. It is then with this breath that the Pilates exercises are performed mindfully to help improve posture, flexibility as well as building core strength. Also known to be a low impact exercise yet strong, few repetitions are needed to feel the work done as you focus on the quality of movement.

What are the musculoskeletal side effects after a low back surgery?

Low back pain after a spine surgery is expected. Wait, what did you just say?! I just did a surgery to reduce the pain and now you’re saying there might be pain?! You’re right. This is normal and expected. A surgeon has breached the skin and muscles in your low back. Don’t expect your body not to put up a fight! They respond by causing the muscles to tighten up and go into a slight spasm to protect the area from further ‘damage’. Your Physiotherapist would have worked with you to address the tightness in your low back. 

Can I do Pilates after a low back surgery?

After your session with the Physiotherapist, who would have addressed the discomforts you are facing post surgery, you will need to get stronger and more mobile. 

Pilates, with some modifications, will make the exercises more accessible in the beginning. Full body integration exercises (within pain free range) are essential in keeping all parts of the body mobile and strong, ensuring load is spread evenly across the spine as well as allow for more efficient and effective movement patterns.

Your instructor will likely be focusing on exercises to help maintain the mobility of your spine after surgery and at the same time build core strength which supports the back. Some exercises may include Quadruped on the mat, Bridging on the Reformer and Roll down on the Trapeze Table.  

Is it safe to do Pilates after the surgery?

Your Physiotherapist would have given approval for you to commence your Pilates sessions. It will be good for the Physiotherapist to also inform your instructor of any contraindications and positive movement patterns that will encourage your recovery after surgery.

Keen to find out more about how Pilates can help in your recovery after a low back surgery and ready to take charge? Contact us to see our Pilates Instructor who will be able to help you embark on the road to recovery!

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