How I beat Back Pain with Pilates: Week 8

Lessons learnt so far..

Collage of several of Gray's muscle pictures, ...

I’m about half-way through my back rehabilitation journey and I wanted to share what I’ve found to be useful lessons for decreasing my back pain..

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How I beat Back Pain with Pilates: Week 7

Monday – Didn’t do homework. Lazy and bad, I know. No excuses.

Tuesday – Came back from London – did my homework in the evening after a nap, as I was exhausted. Still have bruised ribs on left side, still have bad left wrist. Tried to increase the pace a little of the homework, taking shorter rests – if at all – between exercises.

Wednesday – Ass-whoopin’ from the Reformer! Check the video below…

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How I beat Back Pain with Pilates: Week 6

December 2011 – I think I love Pilates for the reason that it is so strict. You either get it, or you don’t, which is what I need right now for my back to get better – perfect form. Flow yoga is so free, and if you don’t know what you’re doing, I think it can be a little unnerving, especially with a sports injury. I like playing around with it on my own, because I know my limits and can adjust myself accordingly. I have enjoyed learning the flow yoga, but ‘flowing on my own’ is my preferred choice now. I have one more class with my teacher before Christmas, and will continue to practice what I’ve learnt on my own, but for the New Year, I think I will just remain with Pilates.

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How I beat Back Pain with Pilates: Week 5

I have decided that I want to do Pilates h/w in the mornings, and formal stretching after my bath in the evening. Having a hot bath is my cheat-way of warming my muscles before I stretch!


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How I beat Back Pain with Pilates: Week 4



Class today was great. Difficult, however, as I had to battle through a bruised rib which sucked. But I made no excuses.
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How I beat Back Pain with Pilates: Week 3

Wednesday – I was coming out of a crazy weekend slacklining; pushing my body for what it’s got! The class session was great – the homework exercises (managed 4 out of 6 days) have complimented my strength and stability increases.

Here’s two narrated videos from my class, showing the ‘100’ and ‘Short Spine Massage’ on the Reformer.

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How I beat Back Pain with Pilates: Week 2

It’s Week 2 and I have already noticed strength increases!

Here’s my Homework series followed by a narrated video of it all –

  1. 100 x 1 rep
  2. Roll-ups x 5 reps
  3. Single-leg circles x 5 reps, each way, each leg
  4. Single-leg stretch x 5 reps each leg
  5. Double Leg stretch x 5 reps
  6. Double leg lower lift x 5 reps
  7. Swan x 3



My abdominals didn’t give out as early this time. My hamstrings did burn out, however, in the same position – Pull Straps 1 and 2.

Did a crazy jack-knife style manoeuvre, called ‘Short Spine Massage’, pushing my lower back’s range of motion a lot more than I thought. A lot of my difficulties with going into flexion come from the mental blocks that I have. I get scared that if I go into a flexion position, my back is going to go ‘ping’ – something that has happened SO many times in the last year. This exercise proved that with the correct core muscles being activated, I can actually go a lot deeper into a flexion position than I thought was possible. This is great news!

Short Spine Massage

Amy got me to do an exercise called ‘Pull-ups’ – it’s very similar to training for a handstand press, using the piece of equipment called the ‘Chair’, *cue fatal music*. It was definitely a hardcore exercise but I loved it. The goal from that one is to be able to do it one handed, with the other hand raised! Nuts.


I have noticed in my body since last time just how much I habitually go into a bad posture, letting my left hip swing out to the side and back. I do it all the time! So part of my homework is to notice and correct this!


A few eureka moments!

  1. When I am sitting, stretching, cycling, whatever the movement or static position is; if my hips are aligned properly (not lazily swung out to my left), I can feel the lower end of my left eretcus spinae muscle working hard. In order to keep my hips aligned properly like this, I have to engage my left buttock a lot more that I am used to. There is a definite weakness in my left glute.
  1. My tight ITB band on both sides, prevents me from getting into deep hip flexor stretching. Stretching my left ITB band seemed to alleviate a lot of the ‘ache’ that I get from working my lumbar and sacral areas of my back.
  2. Cycling – I noticed that I even get lazy on my bike cycling around town! My hips swing out the left, and I rotate my legs externally/outwards, as that is easy for me. When I rotate my legs inwards more, aligning them ‘normally’, my lower back has to work much harder.
  3. Amy and I are now working with a smaller range of motion, but increased control and precision. This is so when my range of motion increases naturally, the stability and strength will not be lost. Otherwise, focusing on increasing my ROM without first nailing the stability and strength of all the little muscles and spaces, means that my foundation (or lack there-of) could potentially give problems later on.

Overall, I can feel my body working very hard in the sessions. There has been a tiny strength increase since I started last week.

I’m planning on doing this 10-minute routine twice a day until my next session in one week’s time. Exciting stuff!

Check out the next post, Week 3, to see how I rediscover a major muscle group that I forgot I had and watch video clips from my class!

How I beat Back Pain with Pilates: Week 1

Tips when looking for a Pilates teacher


  1. Explain your injury/situation in detail at least 1 week before your first class
  2. Leave out the hard exercises from a series
  3. Your teacher should be able to customise a programme/session to suit you

My first Pilates class was not actually as daunting as it might have been. I knew roughly what to expect as I had been to a couple of Amy’s classes before. This helped induce the comfort factor a little more than if I had been a complete first-timer. I can see how the novice could walk into a studio and immediately freak at the array of ‘torture equipment’ on display. But I really felt quite excited. This was the first week of the rest of my life. Just by turning up to class I was on my way to healing my back injury..
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How I beat Back Pain with Authentic Pilates: Introduction

This is the first of a series of posts about how I have used authentic Pilates as a method for beating my back pain. I hope you’ll find some useful information from what I have to share about my experience so far. There are numerous videos, photos and written bits of information for you to check out, each week details the lessons…Enjoy!

An quick but important note before we start, from my Pilates teacher, Amy Kellow of Everybody Pilates:
Harry’s Pilates Programme has been developed using the authentic Pilates Method. His programme has been tailored to the specific requirements of his body at the time. Harry has found a successful means to managing his back pain with his progamme of exercises but these exercises may not be suitable for all back issues. Harry’s understanding of Pilates and his body have, over a short amount of time, gone beyond what I could expect of a beginner to Pilates and therefore his programme has developed from there accordingly.
If you are suffering with back problems I would always recommend working with a well qualified authentic/classical Pilates instructor who has had experience of working with back problems and always after you have sought medical attention first.
It has been a real pleasure working with Harry in his Pilates and back pain journey and I look forward to hearing his side of the experience in his blogs!

In November 2011, I began my spinal injury rehabilitation journey. Be sure to check the photos at the end of the post that show my body mechanics.

Here is the introduction to how it all happened…

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