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Pilates could offer a low cost option to treat lower back pain


A study carried out by Leeds Beckett University has concluded that Pilates could offer a cost-effective alternative to traditional manual therapy interventions for non-specific lower back pain.

Helen Llewellyn, a senior lecturer in Sports and Exercise Therapy in the School of Clinical and Applied Science at Leeds Beckett, conducted the six-week study in which participants took part in an hour of supervised Pilates exercise twice a week. Each session included a ten-minute warm-up concentrating on movements of the trunk musculature. Participants were then taught various Pilates movements and techniques including spine stretch, spine twist and single leg stretch.

Speaking about findings of the research, Helen said: “Non-specific lower back pain affects one third of the UK population. Back pain is the leading cause of long-term sickness and accounts for more than 15 million lost work days a year with an estimated cost of £12.3 billion. By carrying out this research, I am looking at whether a lower cost alternative to traditional therapy should be considered. Whether by simply taking part in one hour’s Pilates exercise, twice a week, can help those who suffer from lower back pain.

“Pilates focuses on the principles of centring, postural alignment, co-ordination, concentration, breathing, precision and movement sequencing. Recently Pilates-based exercises have been increasingly incorporated into physiotherapy rehabilitation programmes and exercise has been reported as an effective strategy for the management of lower back pain.

“The results have provided sufficient trends to justify the use of a Pilates programme for the reduction of perceived functional disability and pain. The use of Pilates exercise could offer a cost-effective way of treating those with lower back pain.”

Helen Llewellyn is a Sports Therapist and Level 3 Pilates instructor who has combined her skills to develop a research interest in physical activity and health.

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