The magic of combining Chiropractic with Pilates
I recently visited Dr Tarryn Mey for a bit of maintenance on a chronic neck niggle that tends to pop up every now and then when I neglect it for a while. Needless to say, my neck felt so much better after seeing Tarryn and I found her advice to be so useful and easy to relate to. Her gentle approach is from a place of understanding, knowledge and a desire to educate you to play an active role in your own spinal health.
We were discussing the benefits of combining Pilates and Chiropractic to maintain a healthy and strong spine and she very kindly agreed to write a guest post for the blog to explain why they are such a great combination. I hope you enjoy reading her post as much as I did!
As a Chiropractor, one of my favorite questions is: “What can I do to make sure I stay aligned?”
In order to understand how you can make sure you are doing your best to keep your spine aligned, you must first understand the two different muscle systems at work in your body.
Firstly, you have a system of Mobilizing Muscles. These muscles are large in size and create movement at your joints when they contract. These are the guys that enable you to walk, run, jump and squat; skip, dance, brush your hair and drink your coffee!
The joints of your spine, however, are not stable enough to provide a good scaffolding for this kind of movement. They require support from your Stabilising Muscle system. This system creates a healthy amount of stiffness around the 24 building blocks (vertebrae) which make up your spine, to provide support while your Global Mobilisers are at work!
Your local stabilizing system is popularly known as your core. When your core is healthy, strong and working as it should; it actually contracts automatically (before you move your “mover” muscles) in order to give the spine the support it needs to prevent injury or locking.
If your core is not working as it should, your spine is exposed to potentially harmful forces and movements because you are unable to effectively brace your spine. Furthermore, as your spine provides a bony casing for your spinal cord, any tension in your spine may lead to inadequate functioning in your nerves too!
This is often where Chiropractors come in. Our main goal is to “unlock” any jammed up joints to restore normal, healthy movement in the spine and relieve tension on the nervous system. While it is a highly effective form of treatment which serves to reduce pain and allow your musculoskeletal system to function at its best; it is impractical to rely on Chiropractic treatment alone. Your body needs some help and reinforcement from, well, you!
The key to staying aligned is in the combination of appropriate manual therapy and establishing and maintaining good core strength to provide your spine with the support it needs!
Pilates is one of the first forms of exercise I will recommend to anyone with a weak core and lower back or neck pain. It not only teaches you to locate and strengthen you core, but also makes sure you know how to use it correctly! It is fun, interactive and super challenging! Make no mistake, while it may look relaxing and easy, it most certainly is no walk in the park!
One of my favorite things about Pilates is its progressive style which ensures that the right instructor is always able to find new ways to challenge your body, improving your strength and control as you go!
It is important to remember that different spinal conditions prefer different types of movement, so before getting stuck into a new core strengthening program, be sure to consult with a physician you trust to make sure it is safe and beneficial for you.
In my practice I have seen this combo-treatment to be extremely effective and empowering for patients, as it enables them to become active members in their own spinal health! (Never mind the added benefits of rocking a lean bod and enhanced athletic performance in other sports!).
This could not be better news! How lucky we are that achieving and maintaining spinal health can be so enjoyable! Through simple manual therapy and a lifestyle of getting active and challenging our bodies with like-minded people, the goal of staying aligned is absolutely achievable, and remarkably enjoyable!
So next time you hit your Pilates mat, forget the burning in your butt and shaking in your limbs as your instructor gently reminds you to ”breathe through it” and remember the fantastic favor you are doing your spine!
Move Well. Live Well.
Dr Tarryn Mey
Dr Tarryn Mey is a Chiropractor with a passion for understanding the mechanics of the human body! She obtained her Chiropractic Degree in Durban, and has since relocated back to Cape Town where she currently practices in Diep River. Dr Tarryn specialises in the manual treatment of nerves, muscles and joints; and is currently working towards gaining a specific Pain Management Certification for various acute and chronic pain conditions.