Information on chronic pain and addicton

Christopher Frandrup, M.D., DABPM, FIPP

Category: Prevention (Page 1 of 2)

21 Of The Best Pillows For Neck Pain

21 Of The Best Pillows For Neck Pain

Finding the best pillow for neck pain is a critical concern for the millions of people who suffer from neck pain. It’s estimated that up to 25% of all women will experience neck pain at some point, with up to 15% of men experiencing it. Finding the best pillow for neck pain can help reduce neck pain from sleeping, while also providing better quality sleep overall.

What is the best pillow for neck pain?

Finding the best pillow for neck pain isn’t straightforward. Many things will depend on finding it, including your specific cause of neck pain and your sleep habits. However, focusing in on a few key areas can help. When it comes to finding the best pillow for neck pain, consider the: pillow characteristics, the material the pillow is made from, and your sleeping style.

Your goal, with all of these, is to keep your neck in the proper alignment in order to reduce pain. Kammi Bernard, PT, a physical therapist at the Baylor Health Care System in Dallas notes:

“The goal of using a pillow is to help keep your head in what is called a ‘neutral alignment,’ meaning your head is sitting squarely on your shoulders without bending back too far or reaching too far forward.”

This simple adjustment can make a world of difference for neck pain patients. It’s important to get the pillow right and, if done correctly, some patients can find that their neck pain reduces or goes away completely. Dr. Raymond Hall on Pillo1.com states that:

“I consider the lack of proper neck and head pillow support that almost all ordinary pillows and even 99% of the so-called “therapeutic pillows” on the market, are the MAJOR cause of neck pain in our society.”

ChooseMattress.com echoes this sentiment, noting that old pillows or sagging mattresses are leading to many neck pain issues for patients. Let’s take a look at these different areas before we dive into our list of the best pillow for neck pain options.

Finding The Best Pillow For Neck Pain | PainDoctor.com

The best characteristics of pillows for neck pain

Where do you start when it comes to getting the best pillow for neck pain? Loom & Leaf suggests focusing in on six characteristics of pillows for neck pain. They note that pillows should:

  • Be fluffy
  • Fill the gap between your neck, head, and back
  • Be durable
  • Have the right filling
  • Support your particular sleeping position
  • Keep your neck in a neutral position

Jennifer at MomActivity talks about a few more of her must-haves when it comes to pillows for neck pain. She suggests readers look for wider pillows that can support your head, as well as using additional pillows between your knees if you’re a side sleeper.

Check out your pillow materials

PainAway Devices gives an in-depth look on the different materials that are used to make the best pillow for neck pain. On their post, they discuss pillows made from:

  • Buckwheat
  • Down or down alternatives
  • Feathers
  • Latex
  • Memory foam
  • Microbeads
  • Polyester
  • Water

You can find additional pros and cons about each of these different materials used to make pillows for neck pain at PillowAdvisor or Everyday Health. Many of these options are hypoallergenic, easy-to-clean, and dust mite resistant. We’ll be looking at a number of these different types of materials throughout this post, with most pillows coming in memory foam, down, or with water.

Figure out your sleeping style

There are three types of sleepers: back sleepers, side sleepers, and stomach sleepers. Universally, back sleeping tends to be the healthiest for reducing pain levels for all patients, however, side sleepers can often find the support that they need with a few modifications.

We typically find that stomach sleepers experience higher levels of both neck and back pain, so generally suggest that patients modify their sleep routine to avoid this sleeping style. However, in this post we will be discussing a few pillows for neck pain that work for each sleeping style.

Finding The Best Pillow For Neck Pain | PainDoctor.com

Why is sleep so important? 

We’ve discussed often on the blog the need for appropriate sleep for pain patients. Harvard Medical School supports this, noting that sleep researchers:

“Found that people who reported moderate to severe problems in at least three of these four categories were significantly more likely to develop chronic musculoskeletal pain after one year than those who reported little or no problem with sleep. One possible explanation is that sleep disturbances disrupt the muscle relaxation and healing that normally occur during sleep. Additionally, it is well established that pain can disrupt sleep, contributing to a vicious cycle of pain disrupting sleep, and sleep problems contributing to pain.”

Health.com also notes that not getting the right sleep can increase your risk of obesity and depression, other known comorbid conditions occurring with chronic pain.

21 overall best pillows for neck pain

With all of this in mind, let’s take a look at options for the best pillow for neck pain for you. This list is based on our trials and other customer reviews. Finding the best pillow for neck pain for you will depend largely on what you need to have your best night’s sleep, as well as your budget and sleep style. Because of that, we’ve included information on prices and materials for all of these. Do note that these prices are subject to change. Always check the original site for the most up-to-date prices.

1. Mediflow Waterbase Pillow for Neck Pain 

There’s a reason why BPillow, one of the best resources for pillows for neck pain reviews, calls the Mediflow Waterbase Pillow for Neck Pain their favorite. This neck pain pillow is backed by a clinical study at John Hopkins University that showed it was the best in class, receiving high marks in every category they studied, especially neck pain relief. The neck pain pillow’s inner water chamber allows you to adjust the level of support you need, whether you sleep on your back or side. And, over 2,000 reviewers agree, giving this pillow 4-stars on Amazon.

Type: Water | Price: $34.99

21 Of The Best Pillows For Neck Pain | PainDoctor.com

2. Core Products Therapeutic Sleeping Pillow 

This pillow for neck pain is one of the most unique, as it creates the perfect sleeping position based on your size and shape. To get this one, you’ll choose from multiple sizes, as explained in more detail on their site. Some reviewers call it a life saver, helping them to relieve neck and headache pain that has plagued them for years. Back Pain Relief Productscalls it one of their top three best pillows for neck pain. Some reviewers have found it too firm, however, so as with all of these pillows for neck pain, it’s best to find the one that works best for you and your comfort level.

Type: Memory Foam | Price: $81.25

21 Of The Best Pillows For Neck Pain | PainDoctor.com

 

3. CustomSleeping’s Cervical Orthopedic Pillow

For all the bells and whistles, check out this: the best pillow for neck pain when it comes to creating a custom fit and support. You can customize your direct neck support with this one, and a zipper on the bottom lets you change the pillow’s firmness. And since it’s filled with a shredded gel memory foam, it’s also soft and cool to sleep on.

Type: Memory Foam and Gel | Price: $49.99

21 Of The Best Pillows For Neck Pain | PainDoctor.com

4. Shredded Memory Foam Pillow from Xtreme Comforts

Shredded memory foam pillows allow you to shape the pillow to your neck and sleeping position. Xtreme Comfort’s pillow for neck pain is made in the USA, stays naturally cool thanks to its bamboo cover, and is machine washable. It also has the added benefit of being comfortable for those who sleep with their arm under their pillow, as the pillow is adjustable to any shape.

Type: Memory Foam | Price: $44.97

21 Of The Best Pillows For Neck Pain | PainDoctor.com

5. Core Products Tri-Core Standard Support Neck Pain Pillow 

Core Products’ pillow for neck pain provides options for all sleepers, whether they sleep on their side, back, or stomach. And it provides options for comfort, all in one uniquely designed pillow. Its center depression allows sleepers to customize their level of support–larger or smaller neck support options and thick padding along the edges for side sleepers, making it a great choice as one of the best pillow for neck pain options.

Type: Memory Foam | Price: $40.96

21 Of The Best Pillows For Neck Pain | PainDoctor.com

6. Chiroflow Premium Water Pillow

Looking for the best pillow for neck pain, at a reasonable cost? The Chiroflow water pillow is one of the best, with multiple reviewers noting that they loved how it could be customized to provide the support they needed. Many reviewers noted specifically that it worked great to help them after neck injuries. They also noted that it was leak-proof, comfortable to sleep on, and easy to set up.

Type: Water | Price: $59.99

21 Of The Best Pillows For Neck Pain | PainDoctor.com

7. CozyCloud Bamboo Shredded Memory Foam Pillow

CozyCloud’s take on the shredded memory foam pillow combines breathable and cooling options while also allowing for proper neck and spinal alignment. This neck pain pillow was designed by a chiropractor, comes with a 10-year warranty, and is made in the USA from high-quality products.

Type: Memory Foam | Price: $49.99

21 Of The Best Pillows For Neck Pain | PainDoctor.com

8. Tempur-Pedic® Swedish Neck Pillow

Tempur-Pedic® is one of the leaders of pillows for neck pain. Their classic Swedish neck pillow provides support to help properly align your spine for a better sleep posture. It’s the leading neck pain pillow by Bed, Bath, & Beyond reviewersfor a reason!

Type: Memory Foam | Price: $99.99

21 Of The Best Pillows For Neck Pain | PainDoctor.com

9. PharMeDoc Memory Foam Pillow with Cooling Gel

The PharMeDoc pillow provides neck support, but it also is engineered with a cooling gel that helps keep the pillow cool in hotter climates (or for those suffering from hot flashes!). Reviewers loved the support of this pillow and that it was made with top-of-the-line products.

Type: Memory Foam and Gel | Price: $26.95

21 Of The Best Pillows For Neck Pain | PainDoctor.com

10. Perform Pillow Low Profile Memory Foam Pillow for Neck Pain

Low profile, chiropractor-approved, and eco-friendly? This pillow for neck pain is a great overall option for those who are looking to find the right kind of support they need while sleeping. The bamboo cover is also machine washable, and all products used in this pillow are hypoallergenic. It got one of the highest ratings over at CrushReviews!

Type: Memory Foam | Price: $74.95

21 Of The Best Pillows For Neck Pain | PainDoctor.com

11. Beautyrest Latex Foam Pillow 

The reviewers over at DecentSleep.com think this is one of the best pillow for neck pain options–soft, made from all-natural latex, and resistant to bacteria, mold, mites, and fungus. They especially think it might be the best pillow for neck pain and headaches. And, neck pain and headaches caused by the wrong pillow is definitely a thing. MemoryFoamDoctor.com notes that:

“When your spine is out of alignment as you sleep, the muscles surrounding your neck and head try to make up for that lack of support. This is why you will wake up feeling stiff if your head isn’t properly supported, and in fact, the tension in these muscles can actually cause significant headaches over time.”

Type: Latex | Price: $43.45

21 Of The Best Pillows For Neck Pain | PainDoctor.com

Best pillow for side sleepers with neck pain

12. Sleep Innovations Contour Memory Foam Pillow

Sleep Innovations creates one of the best pillows for side sleepers with neck pain. It’s a standard memory foam construction (made entirely in the U.S.) that is lighter than some of the other pillows for neck pain on the market. It’s also one of the cheapest on the market, but still has a 4-star review on Amazon, from over 3,000 shoppers.

Type: Memory Foam | Price: $24.99

21 Of The Best Pillows For Neck Pain | PainDoctor.com

13. Classic Brands Conforma Memory Foam Pillow

Hypoallergenic, dust-mite resistant, and designed to keep your head cool while you sleep? The Conforma Memory Foam Pillow is a great option for those who are looking for the best pillow for side sleepers with neck pain, as it combines solid construction and support that help keep the neck supported during sleep. With its firm support, many larger people also love the pillow. Additionally, Classic Brands prides themselves on their customer service, with many customers noting that they were quick to help with questions.

Type: Memory Foam | Price: $37.62

21 Of The Best Pillows For Neck Pain | PainDoctor.com

14. Beyond Down Gel Fiber Side Sleeper Pillow

This pillow, made by SleepBetter, uses a micro-denier gel fiber that mimics the feeling of the softest down feathers. Many reviewers claim that this pillow gives them the softness they love, with the support they need to relieve their neck pain. And, these pillows stay fluffy for even the hardest sleepers.

Type: Gel | Price: $42.30

21 Of The Best Pillows For Neck Pain | PainDoctor.com

15. MALOUF’s Z Gel Memory Foam L-Shape Pillow

Another unique option, this one for side sleepers! SleepComfortably.org calls this the most unique and possibly best pillow for side sleepers with neck pain. It also reduces the need for multiple pillows. Other reviewers say it did wonders for their neck and shoulder pain, since it was able to provide them support on both sides.

Type: Memory Foam | Price: $57.99

21 Of The Best Pillows For Neck Pain | PainDoctor.com

16. MALOUF’s Latex Zoned Pillow For Neck Pain

MALOUF provides one of the highest-end neck pain pillows on the market. With the higher price tag, you’ll get more customizable options for bed size, height, and firmness. It’s also made from all-natural latex, with no synthetic additives, and is naturally antimicrobial, mildew-proof, and dust-mite resistant. And since it’s created with zones, it means you’ll feel less pressure on the back of your head and more support under your neck.

Type: Latex | Price: $91.99

21 Of The Best Pillows For Neck Pain | PainDoctor.com

17. ComfyComfy’s Buckwheat Pillow

Buckwheat pillow?? Many sleepers find that buckwheat gives them the solid support they can’t find in other pillows. This one was specially made for larger sleepers, those with broad shoulders, or those looking for the best pillow for side sleepers with neck pain. You can completely customize how much buckwheat is in the pillow, and many reviewers claim that it holds its shape better than any pillow on the market.

Type: Buckwheat | Price: $115.00

21 Of The Best Pillows For Neck Pain | PainDoctor.com

Best pillow for back sleepers with neck pain

18. COOP Home Goods’ Shredded Memory Foam Pillow

COOP Home Goods provides one of the best pillows for back sleepers with neck pain. And, with all U.S.-made products, it means the pillow doesn’t contain any ozone depleters, mercury, or other heavy metals. It’s also hypoallergenic, dust mite resistant, and machine washable.

But does it really help relieve neck pain? Over 9,000 neck pain pillow reviewers seem to think so, claiming that they were able to customize the support and shape of the pillow to give them their best sleep.

Type: Memory Foam | Price: $52.99

21 Of The Best Pillows For Neck Pain | PainDoctor.com

19. Relax The Back’s PureContour Dual Pillow

Relax the Back offers a wide variety of eco-friendly pillows that can help relieve neck and back pain. Their PureContour dual pillow is made with memory foam, contoured to best support the cervical neck region. It’s especially well-suited for back sleepers with neck pain.

Type: Memory Foam | Price: $119.00

21 Of The Best Pillows For Neck Pain | PainDoctor.com

Best pillow for stomach sleepers with neck pain

20. ExceptionalSheets’ Extra Soft Down Filled Pillow

While we don’t recommend sleeping on your stomach if you have neck pain, ExceptionalSheets does offer one of the best pillows for stomach sleepers with neck pain if you can’t kick the habit. This is a down-filled pillow that is hypo-allergenic and machine washable. Some reviewers call this pillow the best they’ve ever slept on.

Type: Down | Price: $54.99

21 Of The Best Pillows For Neck Pain | PainDoctor.com

21. Primaloft Down Alternative Pillows

Primaloft offers another pillow for neck pain that many stomach sleepers love. The pillow comes in three density options to provide support and comfort during the night.

Type: Down alternative | Price: $100.00

21 Of The Best Pillows For Neck Pain | PainDoctor.com

Next steps

We hope you’ve found a pillow that provides some relief from your neck pain. Once you’ve found the pillow that works for you, though, don’t expect it to be magic the first night. PhysioWorks notes that:

“Your neck may feel different or uncomfortable during the first few nights of using any new pillow. This is because it is still adjusting to the healthy support. In the vast majority of cases, you’ll look forward to extreme comfort within a few days. However, a pillow that does not ease your neck pain within a week is probably not supportive or you have a neck condition that requires professional treatment.”

The Arthritis Foundation also suggests making time for neck pain exercises and physical therapy to help relieve pain. If using a pillow, along with some gentle neck pain stretches, don’t work, it’s likely time to call in a neck pain doctor. A trained neck pain doctor can suggest interventional and focused treatment options for your neck pain condition.

What do you think is the best pillow for neck pain? Which one do you use? 

Does Pilates For Back Pain Work?

Does Pilates For Back Pain Work? | PainDoctor.com

Does Pilates For Back Pain Work?

Back pain patients across the globe are always on the lookout for ways to both prevent and treat recurring pain. As more people look to exercise to keep their backs healthy, the discussion centers around which exercises are most effective. Recently there has been a trend towards yoga for back pain, but another contender in the exercise world has come to the forefront – Pilates. But does Pilates for back pain work?

Pilates for back pain

Pilates is a series of exercises that can be completed using bodyweight, a special apparatus, or a variety of props. Joseph Pilates developed this method of exercise to focus on the area of the body he calls “the powerhouse.” The powerhouse includes the abdomen, including the obliques, plus the inner and outer thighs and muscles of the rear end. The goal of Pilates is to build and balance strength, flexibility, endurance, coordination of muscles, and good posture.

Pilates emphasizes proper form in completing the exercises over pushing for more repetitions. Because of this, Pilates for back pain offers less chance of injury than many other forms of exercise for back pain.

Exercise in real life

A key feature of Pilates for back pain is that the exercises aren’t confined to the gym. Each exercise requires attention to how each muscle is moving, both by itself and in relation to other muscles.

Pilates teachers ask that each person pay attention to the movements and try to replicate that in their daily lives. This way of thinking can be very helpful when preventing back pain. It asks participants to use each muscle consciously to move their bodies both in and out of the gym.

Research on Pilates for back pain

There is copious research on the effectiveness of exercise for relief and prevention of back pain, but less focuse specifically on Pilates for back pain. One small study from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario looked at 39 men and women ages 20 to 55 who suffered from back pain. They found that those patients who used Pilates for back pain had significantly less pain and debilitation than a control group who underwent standard protocols for lower back pain treatment. These individuals were also able to maintain these results at a one-year follow-up.

A recent systematic review of 14 randomized controlled trials of Pilates for back pain found that Pilates was a superior treatment to traditional treatments for chronic lower back pain. In the short term, Pilates was more effective than other traditional treatments. Pilates was about as effective in the short term as massage or other forms of exercise. The results were mixed for long-term results. Reviewers did indicate that some people may find more benefit than others and recommended follow-up studies to confirm those results.

Equipment used for Pilates for back pain

While many Pilates exercises can be completed with just a mat, there are other pieces of equipment that can be helpful and are often used in a gym.

  • Magic circle: This piece of equipment was invented by Joseph Pilates. Essentially a large, flexible ring with two pads opposite each other to hold, the magic ring is intended to provide additional resistance. This resistance helps identify which muscles are being used.
  • Large apparatus: The ladder barrel and Pilates chair are two larger pieces of Pilates equipment. The ladder barrel helps work with flexion and extension in the lower back, while the Pilates chair builds strength.
  • Pilates reformer: This apparatus is a classic piece of Pilates equipment that is what many people envision when they think about Pilates for back pain. The Pilates reformer is a versatile machine that is usually only found in Pilates studios.
  • Pilates tower and Pilates Cadillac: Both of these large apparatus add gravity to the workout and are expensive pieces of equipment that require a trained teacher’s help to use correctly. These resemble traditional workout equipment, minus the added weights (you use your bodyweight instead).
  • Small Pilates equipment: These pieces of equipment include various balls and bands designed to add resistance and challenge to each workout. The magic band could be placed in this category.

Pilates for low back pain at home

Even though the Pilates machines and a personalized session with a trained instructor can be helpful, there are workouts you can do at home without equipment. If you are experiencing back pain in its acute phase, it is best to begin with some fundamentals of Pilates. These are small movements that teach the basic principles. If your back is hurting and feeling delicate, these exercises are gentle and easy. They serve as the basis for more complex movements.

Once the acute phase of pain begins to end, more involved Pilates exercises for back pain can be initiated. Many of these are very similar to yoga. They have similar guidelines for execution, including:

  • Breathe: Breath helps keep the muscles of the body relaxed and open.
  • Move slowly: Don’t rush through each exercise. The emphasis here is on feeling each movement in each specific muscle.
  • Mind your form: Only complete as many exercises as you can execute with proper form. Pilates for back pain is not about pushing for quantity. It’s about quality of movement.
  • Be gentle with yourself: If something hurts, back off and stop for the day, at least that exercise. This is meant to be healing exercise.
  • Imagine the box: Think about your shoulders and hips as four corners of a box and strive to keep them level and even.
  • Lengthen the neck: Keep your neck extended and shoulders relaxed away from the ears as you do Pilates for back pain.

If you don’t have access to an instructor, watching a video of basic Pilates exercises for back pain can be very helpful, too.

Exercise is one of the first-line recommendations for preventing and healing back pain. Have you ever tried Pilates for back pain?

Have Lower Back Pain? Avoid These Stretches And Exercises.

Have Lower Back Pain? Avoid These Stretches And Exercises.| PainDoctor.com

Have Lower Back Pain? Avoid These Stretches And Exercises.

For people experiencing lower back pain, relief is the first thing on their mind when they begin to exercise as part of their treatment plan. Unfortunately, many of the stretches and exercises for lower back pain can actually cause more harm than good when done improperly, and some should be avoided altogether. Here are four stretches for lower back pain that can be injurious if not done correctly, five exercises to avoid, and one stretch to avoid completely.

Four stretches to be careful with if you have lower back pain

It should be noted that we have recommended these stretches on this blog for many types of lower back pain. It is important to consult with your doctor before beginning a new exercise plan, especially if you are in pain or injured. The stretches below can all provide lasting pain relief and stretching for lower back pain, but they need to be completed slowly with proper form to be safe and effective.

1. Both knees to chest

When you bring both knees to the chest, the lumbar curve flattens out, which can make back pain worse in the long run (even if it feels good in the moment). Make this stretch better by moving the tailbone down towards the feet and engaging the abdominal muscles as you raise your knees. Keeping your head on the floor (instead of curling in) and only bringing your knees perpendicular (instead of all the way to the chest) can also help make this a more beneficial stretch.

2. Single knee to chest

This stretch can be harmful for the same reason as bringing both knees into the chest. To protect your back and gain benefit, keep the extended leg active (feet flexed with toes pointing towards the ceiling) and draw the knee up on an exhale, keeping it perpendicular to the body. Lengthen your tailbone down towards the extended foot to engage supportive abdominal muscles as you raise and lower each leg.

3. Knee across the chest

This twist can be very intense and cause harm if you go too far, too fast. Raising the knee into the chest and bringing it across the body can increase lower back pain and cause harm if there is not enough length in the spine. If you want to work on twisting, go slowly. Raise your knee as suggested above, then only move it across your body until your hips come off the floor, then back off. This is a more gradual exercise that stabilizes the sacrum and stretches the supportive muscles on the thighs and buttocks.

4. Knees to one side

Pressing both knees together and dropping them to the side can be extremely painful if you dive right in. Take your time. Instead of dropping them all the way to the side, rock gently in a limited range of motion, exhaling as you move them to each side to engage the abdominal muscles, then inhaling back to center. Lengthening your tailbone down towards the feet also helps ground and stabilize the pelvis, which can also protect your lower back.

Five exercises to avoid if you have lower back pain

1. Jogging

While cardiovascular fitness is important, those with lower back pain should run away from this exercise. The impact of the foot hitting the ground is jarring and can increase pain exponentially.

2. Sit-ups

Building core strength is a great way to heal and prevent lower back pain, but sit-ups are not the way to go. The majority of people perform sit-ups incorrectly, only exercising superficial muscles in the abdomen and placing tremendous pressure on the lower back.

3. Double leg lifts

Bodyweight exercises like leg lifts can be effective when done properly, but most people use their lower back to hoist both legs simultaneously. This is not only ineffective but can also result in more injury and lower back pain.

4. Burpees

Burpees, that combination of jumping, bending, and push-ups, can be a great way to improve overall fitness. That is, if you aren’t already experiencing lower back pain. The speed at which burpees are done combined with the high-impact stages of the exercise can increase lower back pain exponentially. Burpees are difficult to complete with proper form for those people without pain. Lower back pain makes it nearly impossible.

5. Foam roller

While not an exercise, many people are prescribed a foam roller to iron out lower back pain, but there are a few problems with this. For pain that is a result of nerve impingement in the spine, a foam roller does nothing and can actually cause increased muscle soreness as you work to get deeper into the body. Foam rollers are also often unable to get to the actual source of the pain and may press on internal organs that are not protected by the stronger muscles of the lower back.

Lower back pain – one exercise to avoid at all costs

Toe touches

Many patients with lower back pain think they are doing something good when they reach down to the ground for their toes. Indeed, it may feel good – up to a point. This intense forward fold can be extremely taxing for the ligaments and discs in the spine. It can also place direct pressure on areas that are painful and de-stabilize areas of the spine that should be steady (the sacrum, for example).

There is also the danger of overstretching back muscles and hamstrings in an effort to reach the ground. Many people believe that touching their toes or the ground is the best way to improve flexibility (and thus improve lower back pain), but in reality they may be causing more pain and increasing their recovery time. Proper exercises for lower back pain are a balance of strength and flexibility. Focusing on reaching for the toes without strength can make the entire lower back vulnerable.

If you suffer from lower back pain, try these five exercises that promote strength and flexibility.

Does Pilates For Back Pain Work?

Does Pilates For Back Pain Work? | PainDoctor.com

Does Pilates For Back Pain Work?

Back pain patients across the globe are always on the lookout for ways to both prevent and treat recurring pain. As more people look to exercise to keep their backs healthy, the discussion centers around which exercises are most effective. Recently there has been a trend towards yoga for back pain, but another contender in the exercise world has come to the forefront – Pilates. But does Pilates for back pain work?

Pilates for back pain

Pilates is a series of exercises that can be completed using bodyweight, a special apparatus, or a variety of props. Joseph Pilates developed this method of exercise to focus on the area of the body he calls “the powerhouse.” The powerhouse includes the abdomen, including the obliques, plus the inner and outer thighs and muscles of the rear end. The goal of Pilates is to build and balance strength, flexibility, endurance, coordination of muscles, and good posture.

Pilates emphasizes proper form in completing the exercises over pushing for more repetitions. Because of this, Pilates for back pain offers less chance of injury than many other forms of exercise for back pain.

Exercise in real life

A key feature of Pilates for back pain is that the exercises aren’t confined to the gym. Each exercise requires attention to how each muscle is moving, both by itself and in relation to other muscles.

Pilates teachers ask that each person pay attention to the movements and try to replicate that in their daily lives. This way of thinking can be very helpful when preventing back pain. It asks participants to use each muscle consciously to move their bodies both in and out of the gym.

Research on Pilates for back pain

There is copious research on the effectiveness of exercise for relief and prevention of back pain, but less focuse specifically on Pilates for back pain. One small study from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario looked at 39 men and women ages 20 to 55 who suffered from back pain. They found that those patients who used Pilates for back pain had significantly less pain and debilitation than a control group who underwent standard protocols for lower back pain treatment. These individuals were also able to maintain these results at a one-year follow-up.

A recent systematic review of 14 randomized controlled trials of Pilates for back pain found that Pilates was a superior treatment to traditional treatments for chronic lower back pain. In the short term, Pilates was more effective than other traditional treatments. Pilates was about as effective in the short term as massage or other forms of exercise. The results were mixed for long-term results. Reviewers did indicate that some people may find more benefit than others and recommended follow-up studies to confirm those results.

Equipment used for Pilates for back pain

While many Pilates exercises can be completed with just a mat, there are other pieces of equipment that can be helpful and are often used in a gym.

  • Magic circle: This piece of equipment was invented by Joseph Pilates. Essentially a large, flexible ring with two pads opposite each other to hold, the magic ring is intended to provide additional resistance. This resistance helps identify which muscles are being used.
  • Large apparatus: The ladder barrel and Pilates chair are two larger pieces of Pilates equipment. The ladder barrel helps work with flexion and extension in the lower back, while the Pilates chair builds strength.
  • Pilates reformer: This apparatus is a classic piece of Pilates equipment that is what many people envision when they think about Pilates for back pain. The Pilates reformer is a versatile machine that is usually only found in Pilates studios.
  • Pilates tower and Pilates Cadillac: Both of these large apparatus add gravity to the workout and are expensive pieces of equipment that require a trained teacher’s help to use correctly. These resemble traditional workout equipment, minus the added weights (you use your bodyweight instead).
  • Small Pilates equipment: These pieces of equipment include various balls and bands designed to add resistance and challenge to each workout. The magic band could be placed in this category.

Pilates for low back pain at home

Even though the Pilates machines and a personalized session with a trained instructor can be helpful, there are workouts you can do at home without equipment. If you are experiencing back pain in its acute phase, it is best to begin with some fundamentals of Pilates. These are small movements that teach the basic principles. If your back is hurting and feeling delicate, these exercises are gentle and easy. They serve as the basis for more complex movements.

Once the acute phase of pain begins to end, more involved Pilates exercises for back pain can be initiated. Many of these are very similar to yoga. They have similar guidelines for execution, including:

  • Breathe: Breath helps keep the muscles of the body relaxed and open.
  • Move slowly: Don’t rush through each exercise. The emphasis here is on feeling each movement in each specific muscle.
  • Mind your form: Only complete as many exercises as you can execute with proper form. Pilates for back pain is not about pushing for quantity. It’s about quality of movement.
  • Be gentle with yourself: If something hurts, back off and stop for the day, at least that exercise. This is meant to be healing exercise.
  • Imagine the box: Think about your shoulders and hips as four corners of a box and strive to keep them level and even.
  • Lengthen the neck: Keep your neck extended and shoulders relaxed away from the ears as you do Pilates for back pain.

If you don’t have access to an instructor, watching a video of basic Pilates exercises for back pain can be very helpful, too.

Exercise is one of the first-line recommendations for preventing and healing back pain. Have you ever tried Pilates for back pain?

Marijuana can impair memory

dreamstime_s_39200918

“Rocky mountain high” is a common phrase in Denver, CO but that transient high so sought after by pot-smokers may be doing long-term harm to their brains.  Researchers in Switzerland track the marijuana use of 3,400 users over 25 years and tested them on memory, mental processing speed and executive function.  The results are concerning. For each five years of pot use, 50% of smokers remembered one fewer of fifteen words from a numbered list.  That may seem like a small difference, but it is significant and may indicate direct toxic effects to neurons.

Page 1 of 2

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén