Pilates, back pain and immunity

Back pain, Immunity, Low back pain, Pain relief, Pilates / Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009

Practicing Pilates exercises has been shown to significantly reduce back pain. There are several studies to back this up. There’s a bonus benefit too. As you are reducing pain you are also improving your health! That’s a good combination.

Joseph Pilates worked in a hospital in a camp for detainees at the beginning of WWI before he came to the USA. He tells of an influenza virus that was sweeping the camp as well as Europe. None of the patients he was training in his unique physical fitness regime became sick! He was a firm believer in the connection between body, mind and spirit. Four of his six principles are involved with immunity.

“Breath” – An important component of all Pilates exercises, exhales waste gasses that accumulate deep in the lungs and stimulates the removal of pathogens transported by mucous. Breathwork oxygenates the blood, essential for health and immunity.

“Centering” on the midline and on the outward flow of energy to the extremities (“opposition”) stimulates energy movement, essential to health in Eastern wellness philosophies. Eastern medical thought is that where there is energy stagnation there is dysfunction and then disease.

“Concentration” – Like meditation, concentration and focus reduce stress. Focusing turns off the tapes that keep running in your head. Stress reduction is directly related to reduction in illnesses.

“Flow” keeps the body moving and encourages sweating which eliminates toxins through the skin, our biggest organ of elimination.

Twisting exercises compress and stimulate cleansing of internal organs, improves digestion and increases abdominal blood and lymph flow, all of which stimulates the immune system. Lymph glands produce B and T cells that protect us from disease.

Back extensions like “swan” and “swimming” compress and stimulate the kidneys and adrenal glands. Kidneys are essential for cleansing and the adrenals are essential to the immune response.

Chest openers provide space for the thymus gland (T cells stored there) and increased lung capacity.

Inversion exercises like overhead work and bridge increase lymphatic flow, increase blood to the head and upper body and reverses gravity in organs (like dumping out the sediment).

Improved circulation of blood and lymph clears waste and nourishes all tissues, organs and glands.