If you suffer from chronic neck or back problems, you know the pain can range from annoying to debilitating. You can also feel frustrated or helpless trying to alleviate or eradicate the pain on your own. Many Pilates instructors can help you identify where your pain originates and teach you how to relieve it.

To accomplish any movement, your brain sends thousands of individual messages to your muscles. For the most part, you are not conscious of this process, especially after your movement patterns become habit. Faulty movement patterns can cause chronic pain. You may have developed these faulty movement patterns for a variety of reasons. Maybe you never learned to execute a movement as well as possible when you were a child. Perhaps your body compensated for an injury, and when the injury healed you never resumed your normal movement patterns. Other contributors include past or current emotional stress, sitting for long hours and repetitive movements.

Depending on the severity of your problems, Pilates offers several possibilities to help you get out of pain. The Pilates principles: core control, breathing, mind-body awareness, precision, flowing movement, concentration and centering, all contribute to alleviating and eventually ending chronic neck and back pain. Your instructor can help you relearn and modify basic movement patterns. If some muscles have weakened and gotten either too long or too short, your instructor can also help you to stretch and strengthen those areas.

Pilates also addresses the use of your deepest abdominal muscle, the transversus abdominis. This muscle does not cross any joints; its purpose is stabilization, not movement. Studies show that people with chronic back problems often have movement patterns that do not use this muscle quickly and strongly enough. In such cases, this muscle lags behind when it should engage immediately to stabilize and prepare you to move. The resulting instability often allows too much movement in individual spinal segments and can cause injury and pain.

Studies show that faulty breathing patterns can also contribute to back and neck pain. In fact, your primary breathing muscle, the diaphragm, works closely with the transversus abdominis, your pelvic floor muscles and your deep back muscles, the lumbar multifidi. In Pilates, you learn to use these muscles more effectively and efficiently. Increasing flexibility, balance, strength and overall mind-body awareness improves your posture, which often alleviates back and neck pain. Many clients find that before taking Pilates sessions, their posture was slowly but surely getting worse. Now they stopped the decline and reversed the process, feeling and looking taller and younger. Good posture is truly the most effective anti-aging formula.

If you do suffer from chronic neck and back pain, we recommend taking a series of private sessions. Your instructor will evaluate your current condition and address your specific needs. After your series of private lessons, you may then be ready for duet sessions or classes. Please see Scheduling and Classes, Types of Sessions and Pricing for more details.