Restore Calm with Breathwork, Meditation & Relaxation
Calming the nervous system is one of the first priorities when you are in pain and this is also one of the many benefits of Pilates. Being in pain creates stress and tension in our bodies, muscles tighten up in response and breathing becomes shallow leading to anxiety. Deep controlled breathing sends a message to our parasympathetic nervous system which helps to calm the body down, decrease anxiety levels and reduce tension. In Pilates, every exercise requires a conscious breathing pattern that assists with the abdominal connection but also provides an element of relaxation as well. This is why Pilates is sometimes referred to as "moving meditation" as it is just as beneficial for the mind as it is for the body. In addition to Pilates, any form of meditation that involves breathwork and promotes relaxation is highly effective as well, such as Yoga Nidra and guided relaxation sessions. When practiced regularly Pilates, breathwork, meditation and relaxation can be highly effective in reducing pain levels.
Bathe in Warm Water
Whether you take a warm bath at home, go to a hydrotherapy pool or swim in a heated pool, studies have confirmed what we all knew must be true, that it does wonders for our health! Floating in water supports our joints and the heat encourages tight muscles to let go and contributes to an overall feeling of well-being and a sense of calm. Personally, I've found lying in a warm bath with only my face above the water really helps to relieve migraines, especially in winter. The water should be warm and not too hot and 20 minutes is the optimum time to spend in the water. If sleep is difficult for you due to your pain, try taking a warm bath shortly before bed as it helps promote a deeper, better quality sleep which will also help to decrease pain levels.
Follow an Anti Inflammatory Diet
Many painful conditions are caused by inflammation in the body so by following an anti-inflammatory diet you are helping to reduce the inflammation. Several of my clients have followed specific diets for osteoarthritis and experienced a definite decrease in their joint pain. One of these clients changed her diet in her 60s and admitted that she had lived on a diet of red meat her whole life and only introduced fruit and vegetables for the first time when she adopted an arthritis diet. She knew this was a contributing factor to her ill-health. Her body was demanding she change her ways and even she saw results from an anti-inflammatory diet. Generally, processed foods, red meat, alcohol and salt cause inflammation while diets such as the "Mediterranean Diet" are ant-inflammatory. Take a look at the arthritis foundations diet here
for a simple and easy to follow guide about which foods are anti-inflammatory.
Lose Weight to Decrease Pressure on Joints and Reduce Pain
If you are carrying too much weight and you have back or joint pain, you may want to consider losing weight. This isn't always as easy as it sounds and for some people dealing with thyroid or hormonal conditions, it's extremely challenging to see results in this area. If this is something that you could work towards and you have knee pain caused by osteoarthritis, for example, you could see a massive decrease in pain levels. I've seen this with my clients who have followed weight loss programs under the guidance of their GP and the results have been astounding. Each pound of weight you lose reduces the pressure on the knees by 4 pounds. It won't reverse any existing damage to the cartilage and overall joint structure but it will prevent further damage and make strengthening with Pilates much easier. It's not only knee joints that will benefit from maintaining a healthy weight but hip, back and neck joints will also appreciate the decrease in load.
In addition to Pilates, these are some effective ways that both myself and my clients have found to manage pain without relying on pain-relief medication.
Always check with your medical practitioner before making any significant dietary or lifestyle changes in regard to your individual situation. It's all about finding a reliable method that works for you so you know that when pain strikes you have a tried and tested list of options to help you take control of your health and get back to making the most of your life. If you have any questions or want to get started with Pilates, please don't hesitate to contact me at [email protected]
It would be my pleasure to assist you on your Pilates journey to becoming pain-free!