Pilates through the eyes of a Specialist Physiotherapist – part 1

More time spent behind a desk has consequences for us all – Ben looks at his own situation and how he is working to reduce his own lower back pain

The one constant in my daily practice as a specialist physiotherapist is the continuous fight against patients who present with altered postural awareness and the pathologies which present due to the presence of postural dysfunction. Now the term postural dysfunction may sound quite complex but it actually means that the patient has poor postural awareness. Which undoubtedly can be applied to us all on occasions throughout our day.

This is evident in all walks of life weather my patient is an intercounty GAA star or your average joe soap. This is undoubtedly due to the demands modern society puts on our skeletal system, it may not be exaggerated to estimate that between 70-80% of our daily lives are spent in a seated forward flexed position with our head’s poking forward and our shoulders rounded.

Demands of modern society

From early morning to late at night we are in this position when we sit at breakfast, drive to work, work at the computer for 7-8 hours, drive home, sit and have dinner and
watch TV before going to bed to repeat the cycle the next day.

It is estimated that the average employee who sits at their desk 5 days a week will have spent up to 100,00 hours sitting by the time they are 40.

On a personal level, I have also noticed that initially when I began my role as Clinical Lead with Platinum Physiotherapy I began to get increased discomfort in my lower back as I spending more time writing blogs and doing admin than in previous roles.

Ben Doyle is the Clinical Lead at PlatinumPhysio

The reason why I began to get more acute episodes of low back pain is simple, I began to put more pressure on my lower back when sitting for longer periods and as soon as I then needed to sustain a certain position whilst treating a patient that pressure magnified thus causing me to irritate a disc and have an acute episode of spasm/inflammation.

Getting to the core of the issue

If you have been to my seminars or in to see me in clinic you may recognise this phase. Injuries are like onions, they have a core issue and then they have numerous layers which expand as time develops.

Thus, I had two issues to solve, I needed to reduce the acute inflammation (initial layer) and more importantly I needed to reduce the pressure on the underlying tissue by correcting the postural imbalance (core issue). You cannot resolve the acute inflammation without resolving the postural imbalance.

The difficulty for me is that it is very difficult to treat yourself as a physiotherapist. Therefore, I turned to the rehabilitation apparatuses that were at my disposal day in day out in Platinum Pilates. The Reformer!

In at the deep end – in his next post Ben gives us a progress update following four Pilates sessions with John Fagan, and what he’s planning next!