Author: Andreina O'Neil

Pilates for Back Pain

Pilates has been used as a method of combating back pain for many years. Read the blog below for more details on the how and the why.

Take back pain away and schedule Pilates in today

Low Back Pain

Have you ever experienced an episode of low back pain?

It can be an anxious and frustrating time in your life, leaving you unsure of who or what to turn to in order to get relief .

Firstly you’re NOT ALONE. It is more common than you may think. 1 in 10 people will experience it in their lifetime accounting for 40% of absences from work within the UK (NHS 2014; The British Pain Society 2018).

When there is no anatomical or pathological reason for your back pain, this is known as Non-specific Low Back Pain (NSLBP). The incidence of NSLBP can be attributed to many factors such as; activity levels, obesity, smoking, stress and depression (Hasnbring, Rusu and Turk 2012).

So why choose Pilates? Let us look at the Pilates method and what it means.

What is Pilates?

Pilates was created by a man called Joesph Pilates in 1920. His method is based on Contrology, the act of movement with complete control. This includes a variety of exercises based around the combination of core stabilisation, flowing movement, mind and breath control (Lewitt, Mcpherson and Stevenson 2019; Phrompaet et al. 2011).

Pilates for Back Pain

Types of Pilates

There are two types of Pilates. Mat-based mainly uses body weight and gravity. Equipment-based, uses a reformer and multiple pieces of equipment. You usually see this in more advanced classes. Both of these methods work towards the same goal of strengthening multiple muscle groups by creating resistance (Gaskell, Williams and Preece 2019). The session is structured and focuses on numerous body areas. Each of the movements is tailored to suit your individual needs, so don’t be put off if you are new to it. A typical session will last from 45-60 minutes. Expect to feel the muscles working!

Reformer Pilates for Back Pain

How can Pilates help my back pain?

  • By reducing pain and increasing function.

Pilates achieves a reduction in pain and disability through the use of exercise. This theory includes the involvement of exercise induced endorphins, which are proven to reduce pain levels and boost your mood, giving a euphoric effect (Di Lorenzo 2011; Mikkelsen et al. 2017).

A study showed a decrease in pain after a 6 week pilates intervention by up to 3 points on the Visual Analogue Scale, meaning that if participants scored their pain a 6/10 at the start their pain was reduced to 3/10 (Da Luz Jr et al. 2014). Multiple other studies showed a decrease by at least 2 points on the visual analogue scale, and all showed an increase in function. This displays the effect Pilates can have on a participant’s quality of life (Mostagi et al. 2014; Miyamoto et al. 2018; Cruz-Diaz et al 2018).

  • Reducing Kinesiophobia

Kinesiophobia is the fear of moving your body due to pain. This is extremely common with back pain, but it can actually exacerbate your symptoms (Ishak, Zahari and Justine 2017). Studies have shown that physiotherapy-led pilates can reduce kinesiophobia significantly, this may be due to the benefit of being guided through an exercise session by a professional, and realising your movement potential (Cruz- Diaz et al. 2018). Additionally exercise affects neurotransmitters in the brain such as dopamine and serotonin which can positively impact mood and behaviour (Jackson 2013)    

Do I need to be a certain level to start?

NO! Everyone is welcome, all exercises can be adapted to suit your individual needs.

So come get started when you are ready. We currently offer online classes here at Physioflexx and will be reintroducing our face-to-face classes early summer once restrictions lift. For all enquiries please contact us by filling out our enquiry form at

*NOTE: Please always seek professional help if you have symptoms of back pain. This blog is general advice only.*


NHS., 2014. Back pain leading cause of disability. Available at: [Accessed 18 Jan. 2020].

THE BRITISH PAIN SOCIETY.,2018 . British Pain Society Press release: Chronic pain costs the UK billions but research funding is inadequate. Available at: [Accessed 18 Jan. 2020].

LEWITT, M.S., MCPHERSON, L. AND STEVENSON, M., 2019. Development of a Pilates Teaching Framework from an international survey of teacher practice. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, 24(3), pp.943-949.

PHROMPAET, S. et al., 2011. Effects of pilates training on lumbo-pelvic stability and flexibility. Asian Journal of sports medicine, 2(1), pp.16.

Long COVID – what exactly is it?

man wearing black crew-neck top
Long Covid symptoms may include the inability to concentrate due to tiredness.

So, what exactly is Long Covid and how long does it last?

Coronavirus or COVID-19 causes some people to experience symptoms which last weeks or months after the infection is gone. Most people will make a full recovery within 12 weeks, no matter how severe or mild their original Covid symptoms.

However, some people continue to experience some or many of the following symptoms after having Covid: fatigue, chest tightness or pain, poor sleep, shortness of breath, dizziness, nausea, tinnitus, joint pain, depression and anxiety, altered sense of taste or smell and difficulty concentrating.

What can this mean for me?

Long Covid can contribute to a loss of appetite and physical fitness can be exhausting for your body. You may find that if experiencing Long Covid symptoms, your usual form of exercise seems impossible. Recovery time after the simplest of tasks is much longer than you might expect if you have Long Covid.

You may have difficulty concentrating at work and at home. Changes in our relationships to those around us can have a profound effect on our health.

How can a Physiotherapist help my recovery?

At Physioflexx, we believe that exercise is not the only way to rehabilitate someone. We can also help advise you on the following :

  • the best environment for your recovery
  • useful changes to your home set up
  • equipment and routines that may optimise your energy levels
  • pain management
  • general fitness and the return to exercise safely
woman in white robe holding white ceramic mug
Long Covid sufferers may experience breathlessness, fatigue, depression and anxiety

What should I do if I think I have long Covid?

If you suspect you have symptoms of long Covid that have lasted more than 4 weeks please speak to your GP. If you’d like to book an appointment at Physioflexx, call our friendly team on 01560 483200, or book online at

In the meantime, here are some things you can do to help you recover.

Make sure you are eating and sleeping well (see our blog on How To Sleep Better here:

Take regular breaks from both physical and mental work. If you are able, go for a walk. Speak with someone you trust who can listen and support you in your recovery. Don’t blame yourself for feeling fatigued or low in mood. Set reminders on your phone or Alexa. You could write lists to jog your memory. Prioritise things on your to-do list.

You can talk to the Samaritans by calling 116 123 or emailing for a reply within 24 hours. Alternatively you can text SHOUT to 85258 to contact the Shout Crisis Text Line.
For more information, visit


What does Gratitude really mean? What is the science behind it and why is Gratitude so powerful?

person holding white and black i am a good day card
I am Grateful ….

So, What is Gratitude? 

Many of us express gratitude by saying “thank you” to someone who has helped us or given us a gift. However, it is much more than just an action. It is also a positive emotion – a deeper appreciation for someone/something that produces longer lasting positivity.

In fact, it may be one of the most overlooked tools that we all have access to every day. It’s cost-free and not very time consuming, yet the benefits are huge.

The Benefits and the positive effects of Gratitude:

1. Improves physical health. Grateful people experience fewer aches and pains and tend to feel healthier than other people.

3. Improves psychological health Gratitude reduces a multitude of toxic emotions, ranging from envy and resentment to frustration and regret.

4. Enhances empathy & reduces aggression Grateful people experience more sensitivity and empathy toward other people and a decreased desire to seek revenge. The world needs more of this!

5. Sleep better Writing down a few grateful sentiments before bed can improve your sleep quality and duration.

6. Improves self-esteem and reduces social comparisons. Grateful people are able to appreciate other people’s accomplishments and not feel resentful.

7. Increases mental strength Recognizing all you have to be thankful for – even during the worst times of your life – boosts resilience.

Now What?

The great news is that we all have the ability and opportunity to cultivate gratitude. “Developing an “attitude of gratitude” is one of the simplest ways to improve your satisfaction with life.

flat lay photography of leaves with cup of coffee and three macarons on chopping board
Feel the positive emotions of Gratitude

Try these tips below:

  • Write down up to 3 things you are grateful for, no matter how big or small
  •  Spend at least 30 seconds simply just bathing in the good feeling that comes when you think of each thing or person


  • Be as specific as possible
  • Mix up the things you’re grateful for to avoid gratitude fatigue
  • Aim to practise at same time each day
  • Have some sort of reminder – a visual prompt like a Post It note or a journal and an alarm

Final Advice

So there you have it , an insight into the power of gratitude. Such a simple yet profound practice. It can even be a wonderful thing to bring in to your rehabilitation from an injury. It is important to recognise the good things that we do have. Like the parts of our body which are working well. This shift in perspective can help lessen the impact of the emotional and mental challenges that come with recovering from an injury. A small daily practice can make the whole journey of the recovery much more manageable.

” Gratitude opens the door to.. the power, the wisdom, the creativity of the universe. You open the door through gratitude ” Deepak Chopra

How to Sleep Better

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Physioflexx Ayrshire takes a deeper look into sleep and explores just how important it really is.


Why is sleep important?

It is common for some people to experience sleep problems. Symptoms may include fatigue, lack of focus and short temper. These symptoms usually follow a poor night’s sleep. A rare poor night’s sleep is not an issue, but chronic changes in sleep can have adverse effects on our overall health. You may find it difficult to concentrate. You may experience low mood and be more prone to medical conditions including obesity and high blood pressure. Other potential risks include heart disease and diabetes . This can have a negative effect on a person’s quality of life. It is important we consider how to change this in order to learn How To Sleep Better.

Why do physiotherapists talk about this?

At Physioflexx Ayrshire we have discovered there are associated risks with poor sleep and injury risk. Not only from a physical perspective but also psychological. If we feel low mood and have other psychological issues associated with poor sleep, this can have negative outcomes resulting in longer rehabilitation times. Our bodies need time to recover physically and mentally. If these demands are not met, we are more susceptible to injury and pain. There is evidence to support this with increased risk of musculoskeletal injury in adolescents (Gao et al., 2019) and chronic pain in wider population (Boakye et al., 2016), amongst others.

man lying on bed beside short-coated black dog

So, how can you sleep better and what can you do about it?

Read on for some sleep advice for you to apply (adapted advice from Jeremy Christey)

  • Establish how much sleep you actually get
    • Some people will be convinced they have a sleep problem even if they sleep undisturbed.
    • Establish how many hours you had rather than how many you think you had.
    • Complete a diary within an hour of waking noting duration, quality and pattern of you sleep and be too critical or worry about what you write.
  • Use your bed only for sleep (and being intimate)
    • DO NOT watch TV and use your phone in bed!
    • If you are awake for more than 15 minutes during the night- get up and read. but make it something boring e.g. instruction manual until you get tired then, return to bed.
  • Learn about your circadian rhythm
    • This refers to your “internal clock” and changes between low and high wakefulness levels throughout the day.
    • Do not set a rigid bed-time .
    • More important to go to bed when you are tired and sleepy.
    • DO have a fixed wake up time!
  • Get light/daylight in the morning
    • Research suggests 10,000 lumens or more.
    • Open the curtains and get outside if possible.
    • Could try a light alarm that illuminates the room as you wake.
  • Keep your room cool
    • If your room is too warm and stuffy you are likely to get disturbed by this.
    • Try a duvet each if you sleep with a partner.
  • Avoid napping
    • But if you must- keep it less than 20 mins.
    • Napping causes your body to reset and delays the time at which you would normally be tired.
  • Avoid caffeine in the afternoon
    • Set realistic goals e.g. no caffeine after 3pm and then bring it forward as you are able.
  • If you are interested in learning more…
    • Self-help book: Insomnia and Sleep Problems by Colin A. Espie
    • 6-week CBT programme


Increased risk of musculoskeletal injury in adolescents with chronic lack of sleep (Gao, B., Dwivedi, S., Milewski, M.D. and Cruz Jr, A.I., 2019. Chronic lack of sleep is associated with increased sports injury in adolescents: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine7(3_suppl), p.2325967119S00132.)

Complex relationships between chronic pain, depression and sleep disruption (Boakye, P.A., Olechowski, C., Rashiq, S., Verrier, M.J., Kerr, B., Witmans, M., Baker, G., Joyce, A. and Dick, B.D., 2016. A critical review of neurobiological factors involved in the interactions between chronic pain, depression, and sleep disruption. The Clinical journal of pain32(4), pp.327-336.)

man lying on bench during daytime
Sweet Dreams …….

Feeling safe during the COVID-19 pandemic – “Through the Eyes of a Patient”

It is an especially difficult time due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We are aware that anxieties are running high when visiting healthcare environments. At Physioflexx we want to ensure you feel safe at this time. We take every precaution to reduce risks. Very kindly, our patient, Gordon Young has provided a short video with the hope of reassuring you how safe he feels when entering our Physiotherapy clinics.

Patient testimonal regarding our covid-safe measures

We hope that this video above makes you feel safe and alleivates any concerns or fears that you may have. We are grateful for Gordon providing us with his experience and we wish to reassure you that you are in safe hands here at Physioflexx Ayrshire.