Chronic pain is a complex issue. Our current models of pain tell us that chronic pain is a matrix that involves physical injury, the nervous system, psychological responses, and mental attitudes that all contribute to the perpetuation of pain.
One of the key contributors to the development of chronic pain is kinesiophobia, or the fear of movement. It’s very common for a person to experience some type of injury or painful event, and then develop a fear that activity or movement might result in more injury. This psychological response to trauma actually makes it more difficult to get out of pain, as movement is a key part of restoring mobility to the body and restoring the normal neuromuscular function.
It is believed that Pilates and other movement therapies are useful for chronic pain because they work to counteract the cycle of pain that results from kinesiophobia. Because Pilates is based on careful, controlled, and balanced movement, it’s the perfect way to gently show chronic pain patients that movement is safe and actually helps recovery from pain.
This theory was put to the test in a recent study conducted by two English researchers. In this new study, the authors looked at 22 patients with chronic pain (15 women and 7 men) who had been participating in Pilates classes. Twelve of the patients had been doing Pilates for 12 weeks; seven of the patients had 12 months of Pilates training. This study was qualitative, meaning that the objectives were to study and analyze patient responses and subjective experiences reported by the patients. All of the patients took part in a focus group where there experiences were discussed and recorded.
During the focus group discussion, the authors identified five specific categories of improvements that the patients experienced from Pilates…