Pilates could be bad for back7th March 2007
The fitness exercise Pilates has long been regarded as the best form of exercise for people with back problems, but a Canada-based expert is questioning this assumption.
Pilates is named after its founder, Joseph Pilates, a German-born sportsman who devised the exercise method 75 years ago, initially to improve strength.
One of the exercises taught is how to target a muscle called the transversus abdominus by drawing in the navel to the spine and lifting the pelvic floor.
But Stuart McGill, professor of spine biomechanics and chair of the kinesiology department at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, says he has found that strengthening this "core" muscle often worsens back pain, because it can weaken the stability of the back.
Other experts say both Pilates and yoga can do harm if taught in large clasess, or by sub-standard teachers.
But McGill isn't alone in doubting the efficacy of the core muscle exercise, regardless of how it is taught.
Professor Shirley Sahrmann, a physical therapist at the Washington University School of Medicine found that, no matter how many times the movement is repeated, it does not become second nature and therefore will not provide constant back support.
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