Tag Archive | back pain relief

5 Common Misconceptions About Sciatica ( By PilatesWise Carlsbad, Encinitas, Oceanside )

5 Common Misconceptions about Sciatica

Sciatica is a medical condition
Sciatica is a symptom of another medical problem, not a medical condition on it’s own. Sciatica is generally caused by compression of lumbar nerves L3-L5 or sacral nerves (S1-S3) or by compression of the sciatic nerve itself. Sciatica usually affects only one side of the lower body, the pain extends from lower back all the way through the back of the thigh and down through the leg.

Sciatica is always caused by herniated disc or Spinal Stenosis
It is true that sciatica is often a symptom of herniated disc or spinal stenosis, but also piriformis syndrome, degenerative disc disease, spondylolisthesis, osteoarthritis, facet joint syndrome and Si-joint dysfunction can cause sciatica.

Best treatment for sciatica is bed rest
Bed rest is not recommended. Inactivity will usually make the pain worse. Without exercise and movement the back muscles and spinal structures become impaired and less able to support your spine and back. Proper exercise and slight activity help exchange nutrients and fluids within discs to keep them healthy and prevent pressure on the sciatic nerve.

Chiropractor is the only who can help me to relieve my sciatic pain
In most cases people recover from sciatica (depends diagnosis) without any specific treatment. In some cases chiropractor’s care can give you a short-term pain relief but in some cases it will even aggravate the pain. Active forms of back rehab are more effective in the long term and almost always necessary to get rid off the pain. When you engage in a proper exercise program you can recover more quickly from flare up of sciatica and are less likely to experience future episodes of pain.

Pilates is a good exercise form for sciatica
Pilates is generally a good exercise form and rehabilitation for sciatica, but only when taught by a highly experienced pilates instructor or physical therapist trained in Pilates. Pilates is a whole body exercise form which strengthens the deep spine stabilizer muscles that support your spine. It also correct your muscle balance posture and muscle recruitment patterns. It is not recommended to do Pilates based on your own by books, DVDs or Youtube even when they are aimed for people with sciatica. Pilates group classes (mat & reformer) are not recommended either. Investing in a proper one-on-one training with an experienced pilates instructor / physical therapist is the best way to relieve pain and get your active life back.

Our Pilates studio in Carlsbad, California specializes in Pilates Back Rehab program (SpinePilates) which is specifically designed for people with back pain and sciatica caused by spondylolisthesis, spondylolysis, osteoarthritis, herniated disc, bulging disc, SI-joint pain & dysfunction, piriformis syndrome, degenerative disc disease, scoliosis and osteoporosis. Our program is a unique combination of Pilates and Spinal Stabilization training which is scientifically proven to be safe and effective way to rehabilitate & relieve back pain. For more detailed information about our programs please visit our website pilateswise.com.


Can Yoga Be Bad For You? ( by physiotherapist Carlsbad, CA)


Yoga is very well known about it’s healing side, but can yoga also harm you? People have more and more physical problems today and an increasing numbers of population is turning to Yoga for exercise and relaxation. Yoga is well known also about relieving tightness and pain in joints, bones and muscles. Even though Yoga has many health benefits, if practiced incorrectly it may lead to injury and pain. Typical Yoga injuries are muscle strains, torn ligaments, shoulder problems, neck and back aches & pains. One reason of injuries is that people are pushing themselves past their limits and not knowing how far they can go. Another reason is a teacher who is not well-trained and has very limited knowledge about healthy and safe joint alignment and human anatomy.

Did you know that many yoga gurus and yoga enthusiasts have experienced back or neck pain? Many yoga poses force your spine to go too far beyond its normal and healthy alignment. Ideal Yogis are flexible and limber, right? However, too much flexibility is not good for anyone. The joints hypermobility (too much movement) puts excess pressure for your joints, ligaments, tendons and muscles. Loose ligaments and muscles can not support your joint enough, thus increasing risk of injury, pain or even arthritis. Our body is not designed to be like “human pretzel” anyway.

Hot Yoga is worst type of yoga if you have problems with your joint hypermobility, previous orthpedic injuries or fibromyalgia. In the hot room temperature Yoga poses are more intense because warm muscles let you stretch even more and at same time increases risk of injuries tremendously. So, as a Physical Therapist I do not recommend hot yoga as a healing aid for anyone who has problems with inflammation, pain or joint & soft tissue.

In my studio I have two former Yogis with serous back and neck problems. One has fusion in her cervical vertebras as well lumbar vertebras (L4-L5). She has been hypermobile whole her life and her spine was extremely flexible because of spondylolisthesis (slipped vertebras). She used to go to chiropractor three times a week which isn’t definitely helpful for her spinal instability and joint hypermobility. The other Yogis has herniated disc in her cervical spine, I’m wondering what causes that condition for seemingly healthy person…how about head stand or shoulder stand? Normally our weight is shifted by ankle, knee, hip and SI-joint, not by cervical spine. Even though your neck is a correct position while head standing, repetitiions many times a week is not good for your cervical spine and when we are getting older it is not even recommended anyway. It is good to keep in mind that at over 50 years old almost all of us are getting arthritics changes in our spine, which is a normal aging process. My client is over 55 and in a very good shape, but besides herniated disc on her cervical spine, she has also chronic back pain with sciatica, caused by sponlylolisthesis, degenerative disc disease and spinal stenosis. Yep, all of these in one person! She told me that she has been very active for whole her life and also practiced Yoga almost every day in a very advanced level (with head and shoulder stand). If I’m just looking at these two Yogis with all orthopedic problems what they have, my opinion is that Yoga can be sometimes bad for you. Especially if you really are extremely flexible like these two Too much is too much!

So, if you have too much movement (hypermobility) in your joints, you simply need more stability, not joint mobility or muscle flexibility. You need to strengthen supporting muscles around your joints which improve your joint stability and healthy, proper alignments. Pilates is a great form for improving your joints stabilization. Although many teachers typically have dancer background, they may also teach you to go too far. So, take the class from an experienced pilates instructor who has more knowledge about anatomy, proper biomechanics and orthopedic issues that you might have. If you find a good teacher you get definitely a long-term solution for your problems with pain, spine instability and joint hypermobility.

More about PIlatesWise Pilates & Rehabilitation program in Carlsbad California, please click HERE

IS YOUR BACK PAIN CAUSED BY MYOFASCIA? (by Pilates Wise Carlsbad, San Diego)

Fascia covers whole body and it provides structural support around our organs, muscles, joints, bones and nerve fibers. Fascia helps prevent and minimize localized stress in particular muscle, joint or bone. It is always under tension as long as gravity is present, and it also provides stabilizer components that helps our posture and allows us to perform movement automatically.

Fascia has been viewed clinically as a potential source of dysfunction. The research has found that chronic pain patients have some pathological changes in their thoracolumbar fascia. The thoracolumbar fascia is a tough fibrous sheet covering the back. It is tensioned by the muscles above, side and below. The fascia works as an attachment to several muscles and plays an important role of stabilization of the thoracolumbar and pelvic regions (as well sacroiliac joints). The thoracolumbar fascia attaches to the external obliques, internal obliques, transverse abdominals, latissumus dorsi and gluteus maximus. Because these muscles are connected through the same fascia, myofascia chains may contain restrictions and dysfunction in one area that influence another remote area. The thoracolumbar fascia also contains three nerve endings and may play a neuro-sensory role in lumbar spine pain mechanism.

Thoracolumbar fascia’s role as a cause of back pain is something that it is not shown by x-ray or MRI and is often underestimated by doctors. Chiropractors and spinal specialist treat spinal pain as a pain from vertebras or disc, but that is not always the underlying problem and may be a big reason why the back pain becomes, and continues, chronic. In most cases of back pain, especially in sub-acute or chronic back pain, the cause of the underlying problem may be more in muscle imbalances, poor posture or even myofascial dysfunction than spinal structure itself.


There are many specific stretching techniques about how you can release and mobilize the thoracolumbar fascia yourself, for example rolling with the foam roll. Besides releasing fascia, it is still very important to take care of your (deep stabilizer) muscles strength around your spine. Spinal stabilization training is specifically designed for people with back pain. It is scientifically proven to be very helpful exercise method for rehabilitating your back more safely and efficiently. For more information about Active Back Pain Rehabilitation, please click HERE

SI-Joint Back Pain and Treatment – Exercise Therapy in Carlsbad, San Diego


Back pain and SI-joint dysfunction treatment – Exercise therapy

Sacroiliac (SI) joint’s dysfunction is somewhat of a mystery and difficult to identify. However, SI-joint dysfunction is very often source of hip or low back pain but underestimated by doctors and chiropractors. It is much easier to treat hip or low back pain than Sacroiliac Joint dysfunction. People with SI-joint pain do not get relief if the underlying problems and real source of their hip and back pain are left untreated.

SI joint is located between Ilium and Sacrum. It is working as a shock absorption for lumbar spine. So, the sacrum is mechanically associated with the spine, but also affected by alignment and movement of femur.

Any lumbar spine, pelvic and hip region asymmetry, leg-length discrepancy or loss of motion in one joint might alter the forces and can affect abnormal mechanical stress and symptoms in the SI-joint.

ImageI have many clients who got lumbar spine fusion and many years later have painful SI-joint dysfunction. This may happen after L5-S1 fusion, but also people with L4-L5 fusion may have problem on their SI-joint. Naturally, sacroiliac joint is the place that compensate to missing spine motion after the fusion.

There are 35 muscles that attach directly to the sacrum and they produce synchronous motion of the trunk and lower extremities. Decrease in the length and strength of these muscles causes adaptive shortening and muscle imbalances and faulty, compensatory movement patterns of pelvic girdle. SI-joint manipulation by chiropractors or Physical Therapists does not probably work long term, but might get short-term pain relief. The muscles overall have more important role in treating SI-joint dysfunction. Most cases SI-joint problem is really caused by muscle imbalances and compensatory movement patterns than the joint itself. Also, a home-exercise might not work either due to pain and misalignment of pelvic and spine. People with SI-joint dysfunction need to get some “AHA”-moments about their body awareness, posture and alignments.

Our body parts are designed to work together and the best treatment is to treat the body as a whole, and people with SI-joint problems will benefit of that approach, too. Many back pain and SI-joint treatments fail because they only treat symptoms, not looking for how your whole spine-pelvis and hip are functioning together.

Si-joint dysfunction clients need very specific therapeutic exercise program which focuses on neuro-muscle integration by balancing overall pelvic and spine muscles. Pilates is a good exercise form, but not enough if you don’t have a Pilates instructor who has the knowledge about SI-joint dysfunction. Usually instructors do not have that expertise and I’m surprised that even many Physical Therapists have not enough knowledge how to treat people with SI-joint pain. In my experience SI-joint pain decreases tremendously when individual gets more stability and strength in their gluteal, deep core stabilization and pelvic floor muscles as well as flexibility in their hip rotators. Unfortunately, this will not happen overnight…it takes time, approximately 3-6 months. However, the end result is priceless – NO MORE PAIN or at least less pain and stronger muscles around the joints and spine!



For More about PilatesWise Active back pain and SI-joint dysfunction rehabilitation, please click HERE

Restorative Pilates Class For Fibromyalgia, Arthritis, Chronic Back Pain in Carlsbad, CA

Restorative Pilates For Chronic Pain And Overall Wellbeing


This class is for everyone, but it’s specifically designed for chronic pain such as fibromyalgia, lupus, myofascial pain syndrome, chronic back pain and osteoarthritis. The class is an unique blend of pilates, therapeutic strengthening and stretching exercises, breathing and relaxation techniques, myofascial release techniques and MELT method.


Proper exercise program is the best treatment for chronic pain. Movement heals physically and physiologically. Our classes focus on

  • Strengthen supporting muscles surround your joints and spine
  • Mobilizing joints and spine and emphasizing full range of motion
  • Stretching tight muscles
  • Releasing unnecessary muscle tension
  • Releasing myofascia and hydrating connective tissues
  • Relaxing body and mind

This all support your wellbeing physically and physiologically – and the most importantly – relieve overall pain.

 Are you in this pain cycle? We can help you out of it with our Restorative         Pilates class, taught by Physical Therapist & certified Pilates Instructor.

Classes are held on

  • Wednesdays at 11 am and
  • Saturdays at 9.30 am.

All classes are by appointment only and space is limited for max 5 people.

Please call or text 760.481.4943 to reserve your spot.
Your first class is FREE!

Rates: Single class $18, 10 class package $150 ($15/class)

For more about our Pilates fitness and Rehabilitation program, please click HERE




  • Coming again in fall 2013
  • Cost: $25
  • Location: 800 Grand Ave, Suite B 3, Carlsbad, CA 92008

This 90 min workshop that includes lecture, pilates, spinal stabilization training and stretching, is designed for people who have experienced back pain, or for anybody who is interested in his/her back and spinal health.

You will learn
– spinal anatomy and back biomechanics
– common causes of back pain
– how to strengthen your spinal supporting muscles safely and efficiently
– how to improve your spine mobility and hip & lower back flexibility

This workshop is taught by a certified Pilates Instructor Tuula, who is also trained Physical therapist in Finland and has 10+ years of experience in  Back and Orthopedic Rehabilitation.

 Spaces are limited – Please reserve your spot and call 760-481 4943 

For more about PilatesWise programs, please visit our website and click HERE

Take Care Of Your Spinal Health After Spinal Fusion


Did you know that here in the US the volume of spinal fusion surgeries is the most increased among Orthopedic “procedures”? Since 1996 the number of spinal surgeries has increased as much as 116%. Spinal fusion surgery is not that simple and it’s not always successful either. Sometimes underlying problems which caused your back pain in the first place are still there; poor posture, sacroiliac joint instability, weak supporting muscles, hip and thoracic spine limited rotational movement and shoulder girdle hypo or hyper mobility. Without proper treatment of underlying problems the spinal fusion alone is not the final answer to get rid of your pain longer term.

It is very true that in many cases the lower back pain is caused by lumbar spine instability (and nerve irritation) which basically means that there is too much unnecessary movement between vertebrae. Spinal instability does not come overnight and it is more complicated than how it looks like. One reason to have lower back spinal instability is when your hip rotation is limited or you have limited rotation on your thoracic spine. Lumbar spine does not have rotation or lateral flexion, but if rotation is not happening naturally from the place where it should (hip, thoracic spine), the body starts to compensate with excess rotational movement from your lumbar spine. Lumbar spine has to change it’s functioning and force vertebras, discs and ligaments to work the way that they are not built for, causing nerve compression and PAIN. And if spinal supporting muscles are also weak they are adding unnecessary movement and pain. Research shows that deep stabilizer back muscles are “shut down” those who got chronic back pain.

What happened after spinal fusion then? Spinal fusion limits your spine movement at the place which caused the pain, and that is a good thing, right? Unfortunately, body starts to compensate again and looks for the next place to do those missing movements and guess what, that is above and below fusion point. Those vertebras are now in danger and maybe develop similar spinal instability and nerve irritation to those vertebras which were fused together. What now – new fusion?

However, there is an other way to deal with this and that is to find a Physical Therapist who will assess your posture, muscle balance and whole body functioning, not just isolate back problems alone. Heat/cold pack, massage and back exercises are not working. Main problem might be elsewhere than in your lumbar spine alone. PT will analyze your movement and concentrate on increasing your spine & joints mobility and normal range of motion (especially rotation) and decrease hyper mobility with proper strengthening exercises (spinal stabilization training). Our body is a kinetic chain and all parts have to work together, so instead of just isolating to treat back pain, you must understand and treat the whole body.

Getting lifelong results and better spinal and proper body function, I warmly recommend to try Pilates private training. Pilates is an incredible treatment for all people with or without spinal fusion. If you don’t find a Physical Therapist who can teach Pilates for you, just look for an experienced Pilates Instructor who has education and experience to working with people with back pain and after spinal fusion. Pilates does probably not include that much stretching that people with back pain might need (hamstrings, piriformis, hip flexors), but it is a good way to strengthen your spinal supporting muscles, improve your range of motion and working your whole body more efficiently and safely. And the best part – with good Pilates instructor you will learn BODY AWARENESS. Body awareness is going to be a big help taking care of your spinal health after spinal fusion and back pain – and that is PRICELESS!!

More about PilatesWise Pilates & Spinal Stabilization training for back problems, please check out this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TDzsq7u199s or Visit our website click HERE.