Surviving Back Pain with Pilates

As people age, back pain is very likely to be on the list of the things that cause the most discomfort. (It certainly is on my top five!) Back pains result to frequent visits to the doctor and cause many people to miss work.

The muscle aches, numbness or stabbing sensations can be gradually improved by home treatment and self-care.

Age and lack of exercise are just some of the factors that cause back pains. When the core muscles are weak and unused, they contribute to back problems.

Doing heavy lifts, bending, or straightening require abdominal muscles to work with back muscles. Having a weak core makes one prone to back problems.

Intro to Pilates

Having a weak core or abdominal muscles, certainly, had been a challenge for me. I became determined to try many cardio exercises to lose my belly fat. When I found the courage to try Pilates, my body responded positively without bringing myself to exhaustion.

The reason I stayed on with Pilates is one of the main things that the system emphasizes – developing the body’s core which includes the abdominals, hips, gluteals and lower back.

Pilates is a system of strengthening and stretching exercises which prove helpful forms of self-care exercises especially to those with chronic back pains.

The Principles of Pilates and My Discovery

Pilates programs are hinged on nine principles. The six original principles are breathing, concentration, control, precision, flow and centering. The other three principles are balanced muscle development, whole body movement and relaxation.

1. Breathing

This is very important in Pilates as every movement requires inhalation and exhalation. There are breathing techniques designed to help muscle activation. What I’ve learned to do is maintaining to inhale through the nose and exhale through the mouth before and during the exercise.

This technique is called the rib cage or costal breathing. I observed that my rib cage expands when I inhale and my transversus abdominis and obliques contract as I exhale.

2. Concentration

The principle of concentration means there is intention in every movement. Pilates demands focus and feel of the way every exercise is done.

3. Control

This is based on the idea of muscle control. Controlling your movements mean that you maintain proper form, alignment and effort.

4. Centering

Centering, on the other hand, involves visualizing that all movements come from your abdominal muscles. In my Pilates classes, concentration, control and centering help me develop my body awareness.

My muscles respond better when I am able to concentrate my thoughts and center my movements to my core while maintaining my proper form.

5. Flow/Rhythm

The principle of flow or rhythm requires that exercises are performed with grace.

6. Precision

Precision maintains that every exercise should be performed with emphasis on proper form. Simple and precise movements make an effective exercise. When I was starting out, I realized that precision and flow takes time to become good at.

Therefore, it is not necessary to be perfect on the first try. Simple movements can be precise and have good rhythm when you apply first four principles well.

7. Balanced Muscle Development

This ensures that exercises done on one side of the body must also be performed on the other. Exercises involving your right arm, must also be done with your left.

8. Whole Body Movement

This engages the entire body through breathing, core exercise, and the use of both arms and legs.

9. Relaxation

Lastly, Relaxation ensures that there is no tension before any exercise is done. Following these nine Pilates principles will make for an effective exercise with no effort and time wasted.

Results of Continuous Pilates

After attending Pilates classes of up to three times a week, I noticed in myself an increase in body strength, balance, and flexibility. I now have a better posture and I can do a proper breathing technique with ease.

The occurrence of my back pains became minimal. I can also perform more physical activities that were used to be limited by my back pains.

Different Apparatus    

I was once intimidated by the different Pilates apparatus. I used to just pass by Pilates gyms and look through the windows thinking the movements are way over my head. Then I found that mat and apparatus work can all be adjusted to suit different levels of fitness abilities.

The Reformer is the most common Pilates apparatus. There are also Cadillacs, Wunda Chairs, Spine Correctors and Ladder Barrels. The workouts for these are less intimidating than their names.

The Future

Pilates is for people of all ages. There are classes for beginners and for the elite athletes. I recently read online about this fitness combo called Yoglates, which combines Yoga, Calisthenics and Pilates. This might be a fun way to make Pilates more appealing to people who are scared to try.

Pilates can be a warm up to a rigid exercise or it can be a good ending to a workout day full of lifts or sprints. In the future, new trends involving Pilates might pop up here and there but the positive effects of Pilates to body, especially for relieving some back pains, remain the same.

Vibration Machine for Weight Loss: The Perfect Gift this Holiday Season

It’s a few more weeks before the whole world will come together to celebrate the most festive season of the year. Personally, I am more interested in what the New Year will bring and I am pretty sure you are, too. And while you may already be thinking about that perfect present to give this holiday season either to yourself or to someone you hold dear, hold that thought as I have something for you. I know you might think this is odd, but I’m really thinking about the perfect vibration machine to buy for a Christmas gift that I can give to a dear friend of mine.

Yes, you got that right. After all the musings, I’ve finally figured it out. This is the perfect gift I could ever give to my friend. You should consider it, too. Here’s why.

Most of the folks that I have met have this intense desire to lose weight. As a matter of fact, even before they open their Christmas presents, they are already thinking of what to include in their New Year’s resolution. Unfortunately, many eventually fail for a number of reasons, but more because of the time needed to produce the kind of weight loss that is longer-lasting. They know that they need to watch what they’re eating while also paying close attention to their physical activities.

The main issue is that their other commitments may get in the way of weight loss physical exercises. For instance, if they manage to run at about 8 kilometres per hour, they will only be burning about 450 to 500 calories. If they swim freestyle for a good one hour, they’ll be shaving about 550 to 600 calories as long as they swim fast enough.

My friend has the same concern. She has always wanted to lose weight yet her commitments at work and her family simply prevent her from spending more time to exercise.

That is why I honestly believe that by giving her only the best vibration machine, I can somehow help her out in her weight loss goals.

Vibration machines are very small yet very useful exercise equipment that can help you lose weight by simply planting your feet firmly on a vibrating platform. As the platform moves, it sends hundreds of vibrations per second towards the rest of the body, more specifically the muscles. These vibrations contract and relax each individual muscle tissue so that it simulates a muscle being exercised. And since these vibrations are continuously sent throughout the body, the muscles contract and relax at an amazing speed.

Now, if we know muscle contraction it always requires energy and this energy is supplied in the body by calories. So, if you are sending vibrations to all the muscle groups, you are stimulating these muscles to use energy.

Don’t believe me? Consider this. Spending only 15 minutes on a vibration machine is already equivalent to swimming freestyle for about half an hour or jogging for an hour. It’s also equivalent to riding your bicycle for 60 minutes.

And you know what the best part is? You’re spending these 15 minutes doing nothing. You’re simply standing on the machine or you could very well be seated on your couch with your feet firmly on the vibration platform.

You could be doing your homework, preparing dinner for the family, or even watching your favourite TV show and you’d still be losing weight.

Now tell me if I am making a serious mistake buying a vibration machine to give as present to my friend this coming Christmas. I’m pretty sure you would do the same.

A Guide To Buying An Exercise Bike

An exercise bike is one of my preferred ways to stay fit without having to go to the gym, especially during nasty weather or lazy days. Pedalling is an easy task that I love to combine with watching my favourite movies. It also gives me a good workout, as most exercise bikes have a variety of pre-programmed routines. There are also models where I can program one manually and track important information like burned calories, rotations per minute (RPM), distance, cardio/heart rate control, and recovery mode.

If you are in the market for an exercise bike to buy in Australia, I can assure you that you have tons of models to choose from, with models ranging in price. For as low as $90, you can find a basic model, although decent beginner-level models cost between $400-$1000. The more features you want, the higher the price goes.

Recent models have definitely improved in the past years, with exercise bikes nowadays using magnetic resistance technology instead of real wheels. This means they are a lot quieter and safer. Moreover, you can opt for a recumbent bike, where you are sitting back and your legs are in front of you while you are cycling. In my experience, these bikes are certainly more comfortable and friendlier to your back than the traditional bikes that are upright. This is another huge reason I believe exercise bikes are a great option for home exercise.

Important Things To Look Out For

Unless you have some knowledge or experience with exercise bikes, it is easy to get overwhelmed by the huge selection to choose from. It is tough to know what you should really look out for when buying one, but I can help make it easier for you. While the price tag is certainly a huge factor, you should also consider other aspects that distinguish a good bike from a low-quality one.

As much as possible, buy an exercise bike you have personally seen and tried out. Buying one blind over the Internet is a risk or at least a hassle if you end up wanting to send it back. Moreover, going to a store is better because you can get advice on finding the best model for you and you have someone who can explain to you the advantages and disadvantages of each bike.

Based on my experience trying out different exercise bikes, I suggest you also check these factors out during your search.


Most of the factors that determine your choice are personal. My point is what feels good and comfortable for you might not be the same for me, so you should try using the exercise bike for a few minutes to see how it feels for you. If you are buying one for you and your partner, settle for one that can be adjusted for the both of you. Those who have issues with their backs should also opt for models that are very adjustable, from the seat position and angle, all the way to the position of the handlebars.

Cushioned Seat

A well-cushioned seat makes your ride more comfortable. If you like fast cycling like I do, then a wider seat might be preferable. There is nothing I hate more than a sore behind after a session.


Another thing you need to try out is the pedals. Most models have normal ones without clips (which can be found in higher-end bikes), so choose one that is wide enough for your feet so that they do not slip off.

Added Features 

All electric bikes have an LCD screen that shows you a summary of your workout and allows you to make adjustments to your ride. However, advanced models have some extra additions that might interest you, like a wireless heart rate receiver you attach your chest.

I find working out on an exercise bike both fun and exhilarating. Exercise bikes have developed a lot over the years so it is a good time to buy one. While they might be a bit of an investment, they do save you from a trip to the gym and are great to use while enjoying your favourite TV show at home.