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Joseph Pilates said that 'if at the age of 30 you re stiff and out of shape, you are old. If at 60 you are supple and strong then you are young'.

Most back pain is due to faulty posture, the kind of posture in which we spend most of our day, coupled with a sedentary lifestyle.

Do you sit at your desk a good part of your day? Use the computer a lot, spend much of your time in the car? Unfortunately, many people do, and they find it very difficult to sit up with proper posture for eight hours a day.

Being so sedentary is not natural, and can put a lot of strain on the back. We weren't meant to sit for hours a day. Sitting isn't easy on the back. Staying in

one position also doesn't promote good circulation and muscle tone.

It becomes a vicious circle: You sit for long periods of time in a way that doesn't support the spine. Then you lose the strength in the postural muscles by not using them, and then you can't sit up straight even if you wanted to! You get the picture.

Most of the Pilates mat exercises strengthen the muscles necessary to properly support the spine, and bring awareness about how you use the body, how it feels

to have proper posture. Pilates, when done intelligently, builds an inner muscle strength and flexibility, reduces the risk of injury and posture problems, can help speed recovery from backaches, sore necks and strained muscles.

Doing Pilates is a great start to try and ease your back pain. It will give you an increased body awareness, so that in your daily life you will be aware of your posture, feel the spine lengthening, know in what part of the body you tend to tense up.

If you integrate the Pilates principles into your daily life, you are bound to feel a difference immediately. You will feel stronger, more flexible, more relaxed.

Try and sit and stand up tall, pull your belly in, keep the shoulder blades down your back. If you stand a lot, try and keep the knees soft, weight evenly balanced over both feet.

Try and get off your chair regularly, walk around, walk up and down the stairs, go outdoors, stretch.

As always, before starting a new exercise programme, check with your health professional that it is right for you.

If you'd like to find out more about Pilates classes in Douglas and Cork, and how you can benefit from doing a regular class, contact Jaconel 085 1613 505   or

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