Joint Pain and Pilates

Tamsen Butler
Women in a pilates class

Joint pain relief and Pilates go hand in hand because one of the biggest benefits of the exercise is the ability for it to strengthen muscles and increase joint flexibility. If you have joint pain, you probably think you can't exercise because it would cause further injury or cause you to feel more pain during and after the exercise. That is not the case with Pilates' low impact and low intensity workouts.

The Causes of Joint Pain

Many times, misalignment due to wear and tear on the body is a cause of joint pain. Joints can lose elasticity and flexibility. Due to this decrease in joint range of motion, people suffer from injuries or chronic pain.

Joint Pain Relief for Athletes

Athletes suffer from joint pain because of strenuous workouts and overuse. In conventional exercising, people place a lot of strain on their muscles and joints without keeping the rest of the body balanced. This increases the risk for joint injuries resulting in joint pain. To prevent injuries, exercises that target muscle groups and stretch the joints are best.

Relief for Arthritis Joint Pain

Arthritis is another common reason for joint pain. Many people who suffer from this condition believe there's nothing they can do about it except take medication. However, some forms of exercise can help decrease the pain associated with arthritis and the amount of medication needed. The Arthritis Foundation says Pilates can help strengthen and balance the body and can be done by those with arthritis with some small modifications.

Relief for Joint Pain from Obesity

People with extra pounds causing joint pain from the added pressure can receive some relief of their pain from Pilates. As strength increases, and the body's core becomes more stable and balanced, joint pain eases. As the exercisers become more comfortable and confident in activity, they may feel compelled to add more activity to their daily routine and might lose some weight, which will help relieve joint pain too.

Joint Pain Relief for Fibromyalgia Sufferers

The joint pain characteristic of Fibromyalgia can be lessened by doing Pilates - particularly since Pilates offers a full-body, very low impact workout that increases flexibility and strengthens the muscles around the joints. As with any chronic illness, it's important to check with your medical provider before beginning any new exercise, especially if you've been inactive for some time.

How Pilates Eases Joint Pain

Pilates can decrease and prevent joint pain. When the body is more balanced and stable, there is less stress on the joints.

The Benefits of Pilates

Pilates is a low impact and low intensity type of workout. The movements are easy on the joints, making it possible for people of all ages with or without pain to participate in the workouts.

The Mind Body Connection

The mind-body connection in Pilates is important. You will learn how you can teach your mind to control your body's movements. This will help you increase flexibility, strength, and balance. Once you have done Pilates for a while, you will increase your range of motion and prevent further damage to your joints.

Stronger Core

Pilates focuses on balancing the core of your body to improve posture. You strengthen and stretch your spine, knees, hips, and shoulders during a workout. Besides improving your range of motion, posture, and flexibility, you will also increase circulation and abdominal strength. The movements are controlled and done slowly to maximize the effectiveness on the muscle groups and joints.

Pilates Exercises for Joint Pain

Pilates relieves joint pain by strengthening the body and building balance and stability. For that reason, there isn't one specific Pilates "move" you can do to relieve joint pain - rather, the overall practice of Pilates is what helps joint pain. If you are interested in knowing which Pilates exercises can target specific joint areas, below are a couple examples.

The Clamshell for Hip Joints

  1. Lying on your side, bend both knees to a 90 degree angle.
  2. Stack your hips so one is right over the other. Do the same with your shoulders.
  3. Pushing your big toes together, raise the top knee. Your legs should look like a clamshell opening and closing as you repeat.

Calf Raises for Knee Joints

Calf raises help strengthen the muscles supporting the knee without adding pressure to the joint. This exercise can be done standing or while supine on a Reformer.

  1. Place feet parallel to each other, no wider than hip-width apart.
  2. Keep your knees soft and not locked.
  3. While focusing on pushing through the balls of your feet, lift your heels off the ground or Reformer bar. Keep your spine long as you do this.

Ease Joint Pain Naturally

Treat your Pilates workout as a time to be with your mind and body. Life can get out of control sometimes, make time to take back that control and live a healthy, happy and joint pain free life.

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Joint Pain and Pilates