Yoga and pilates are two wonderful exercise programs that are gaining more and more popularity, I'm finding, and patients often have questions in regards to their yoga and their pilates. Should they be doing it while their back condition is flaring up, and what are the pros and cons.
Well, the simple answer is that if you're suffering from acute or some sort of unstable back condition you're probably going to want to stay away from yoga and pilates. The big reason is if you're already suffering with the pain, and the pain is often due to a pressure imbalance on the spine, when you go and take the class you're probably going to be pushing those tissues that are injured in the wrong direction sort of increasing the pressure on those tissues with all the flexion and the flexion rotation poses that are involved.
So, alone those services are not going to flare up the back, but combined with the day to day stresses of sitting, bending, and carrying that's often just too much for the patient. It's not recommended during these acute phases.
I usually, however, will get the patient back to doing these yoga and pilates moves especially during the second and third phases of their recovery. As the tissue is healed and now needs to be stressed in different directions and different forces, that's when they become very beneficial. So, somewhere in the three to four week, not day, but three to four week post-aggravation or injury is it probably going to be appropriate to start returning to those disciplines.
If you're in a physical therapy program the therapist will guide you better. But, in general, you're going to want to wait a few weeks before returning to those sports. It's just a little too much pressure on the spinal discs and on the joint capsules, and it's really promoting the wrong forces on those tissues during that special acute phase of the injury.