Pilates for Spondylolisthesis
In this show, we look at Pilates for Spondylolisthesis and the related condition spondylolysis, explore how the conditions present, the differences between them, and how we, as Pilates instructors can help people who have them. The Pilates ‘elephant in the room’ in this discussion is the myth that spondylolisthesis and spondylolysis always correlate directly with pain. Pilates teachers are often anxious that there are specific exercises that they should or shouldn’t be recommending to clients with these conditions so in this episode we dive into why it’s so vital to rely on evidence and data and ensure you are up to date with best practice so that you aren’t engendering fear in students with outdated beliefs.
What You Will Learn:
- Pilates for Spondylolisthesis may not be what you think
- Key similarities and differences between spondylolisthesis and spondylolysis
- Current best practice and evidence on treating spondylolisthesis and spondylolysis
- The anatomy of the spinal column and why we need this information as Pilates professionals
- Cloe’s experience of spondylolisthesis and what a nocebo response from ill-informed healthcare professions did for her confidence
- How we can avoid creating an atmosphere of fear around movement based on pseudoscience
Exercising with Spondylolisthesis
Spondylolisthesis is the forward displacement or movement of one vertebra, relative to the one below it, typically, the L5 slips forward on the sacrum although it can happen with other vertebrae. Spondylolysis is a related condition, but instead of a displacement, there is a hairline stress fracture on the back of the vertebra. That people with these conditions shouldn’t do certain types of exercise is a misconception, and we can use evidence-based studies to see how we can support clients and use Pilates for spondylolisthesis and spondylolysis.
Causes of Spondylolisthesis and Spondylolysis
The causes of these conditions tend to be a combination of things — but there is a significant component of genetic inheritance with spondylolisthesis, in that a major risk factor is a first degree relative with the condition. Spondylolysis, in contrast, seems to be common in lots of different athletes in a variety of sports. We examine the evidence around movement in Pilates students with these conditions and share the data that shows neither surgery nor physiotherapy are the definitive answer.
Managing Back Pain
If your client’s back pain and spondylolysis or spondylolisthesis are both in the same location, then it’s possible that they are related. But you still can work with that client within their pain tolerance levels, a little bit of pain or discomfort is unlikely to be a problem, the critical principle is not to aggravate the back to the point where it doesn’t settle after the workout — build in time to rest and recuperate but don’t nocebo your client and make them fearful of movement.
About Raphael and Cloe:
Raphael Bender, CEO, Breathe Education
Raph believes everyone deserves the opportunity to transform into a better version of themselves. His main strength as a teacher and movement professional is the ability to distill complex research findings into a simple, science-based approach to help people move fearlessly, thoughtlessly, and painlessly. He LOVES running, weights, cycling, and Contrology.
Raph holds a Master’s degree in Clinical Exercise Physiology (Rehabilitation), a Bachelor’s degree in Exercise and Sports Science, Diploma of Pilates Movement Therapy, and STOTT PILATES full certification.
Cloe Bunter, Training Manager, Breathe Education
With 8+ years in the industry, both teaching Pilates and nurturing new instructors, Cloe is passionate about empowering new and seasoned instructors to think critically and move fearlessly. Empowered instructors empower their clients, and in turn, change lives.
She finds great joy in building connections with clients, students, colleagues, and the broader movement and rehab community. Co-hosting the Pilates Elephants Podcast, with Raphael Bender, has provided an incredible platform to bust common Pilates, movement, and rehab myths whilst creating a worldwide community of critical thinkers who are elevating health literacy.
Cloe is fascinated by movement in general, and its ability to enhance our lives, at any age. Her own movement practice includes Contrology/Pilates, running, weights, and kettlebells. She has a Diploma of Clinical Pilates, Cert IV in Pilates, and Cert IV in Training and Assessing.
How to Connect with Raphael and Cloe:
- You can find Breathe Education online here
- You can find Cloe Bunter on Instagram here: @cloebunterpilates
- You can find Raphael Bender on Instagram here: @the_raphaelbender
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