On average 8 in 10 people within the UK encounter back pain issues at some point during their lives, leading to over 12 million work absences a year. It comes as no surprise that many are now looking for ways to prevent and manage back injuries, particularly during Back Care Awareness Week (7-11 October).

65-year-old Joan Shield from Ryton, Tyne and Wear, was desperate to find a cure for her intermittent back pain after spinal surgery over 30 years ago. Following recommendations from a friend, Joan reached out to Nuffield Health Newcastle Hospital for help.

Nuffield Newcastle currently offer a Back Pain Prevention programme in which patients attend weekly holistic Pilates classes, hosted by a physiotherapist.

Classes are conducted in small groups, so that attendees are supported and guided closely throughout. The physio’s hosting the classes, know the medical background of each attendee in depth meaning they can tailor a class to each individual’s needs.

Joan said: “I’ve had issues on and off with my back for a long time, and one wrong move would render me in pain and stiff, too frightened to move in case I hurt myself any further.”

“I wasn’t sure what I expected from the Back Pain Prevention Programme, I was doubtful that a holistic approach would prevent further pain but I gave it a go and I was very pleasantly surprised. The Pilates classes have completely changed my life.

“I know exactly how to move my body and what to do when I’m feeling a slight niggle in my back. My posture has improved massively since I started doing Pilates with a physio, I’m energised and feel I know my own body and spine more than ever.

“I’ve tried other classes alongside my regular sessions and found they were far too crowded. I didn’t feel as safe and guided, as the instructor had more people to focus on. Within the classes provided by Nuffield I feel the physio knows me and knows exactly what I should and shouldn’t be attempting. I definitely recommend the holistic approach offered by Nuffield, it has given me my life back.”

36-year-old Claudine Van Hensbergen, from West Jesmond is pregnant with her second child and attends weekly sessions alongside Joan. Claudine started the programme following severe back spasms that started 3 years ago. Claudine said: “During my first pregnancy the muscles in my stomach split, causing additional pressure on my back.

“I bent down to pick my son up when he was around 3 months old and my back began to spasm, which left me laying on the floor unable to move. I spoke to staff at Nuffield who recommended I attended Pilates as part of their Back Pain Prevention Programme and I’ve never looked back.

“The classes helped me tackle the spasms and before long I started to feel much better. I’m now pregnant with my second child and attend classes as normal.

“I was conscious that there are a lot of opinions around pregnancy and exercise but I felt safe, able and confident when doing Pilates with my physio. I even did a plank at 35 weeks pregnant, which when compared to my complete lack of ability during my first pregnancy astounds me.

“Much to my delight I haven’t experienced severe back pain in a long time and my stomach muscles are much stronger. I’m extremely grateful to the staff and physiotherapists as they’ve taught me how to effectively prevent and manage pain.”

Physiotherapist and Pilates teacher at Nuffield Health Newcastle, Joanna Walbank said the following: “I’m really pleased that the Pilates classes are having such an amazing impact upon Joan and Claudine’s lives. It’s so important that, no matter your age, you look after your back and take steps to prevent pain and complications later in life.

“Pilates helps promote patient autonomy, making individuals more self-aware and conscious of their posture. I really recommend Pilates to all ages and encourage anyone worried about potential back pain to do their research and to reach out.”

To find out more about the holistic therapy and various treatments on offer at Nuffield Health Newcastle visit: https://www.nuffieldhealth.com/physiotherapy/newcastle.