Lehigh Valley

Pilates before pills

ALLENTOWN, Pa. - At Pilates of the Lehigh Valley the workouts are about more than just a trim waistline.

"Pilates is controlled stretching and strengthening," said owner Susan Munshower.

"I would say 80 percent of my practice people come that have some sort of back issue."

Munshower already gets referrals from local doctors.

But soon she could see a spike because of new back pain recommendations by the American College of Physicians.

The new guidelines focus on prescribing massage, yoga, and therapeutic exercises like pilates before pills.

"Opioids have a lot of negative side effects in terms of increasing tolerance and continually needing more," said Dr. Andrew Tsen with Lehigh Valley Health Network.

Tsen says the goal is to use a variety of non-evasive and non-addictive methods to treat back pain with painkillers and surgery being a last resort.

These women have all had back pain to some degree.

Susan Musselman has an artificial disc.

She says when she started pilates five years ago, she could barely lift her hip.

Now she is able to do even the most advanced moves in Pilates.

ut she says before doing any exercise, talk to your doctor.

Then, find someone like Munshower, a board certified occupational therapist to help you devise a safe workout plan.

"Once you push through and you get your body moving and get things going the benefits so outweigh the initial struggle," said Mussleman.

Doctors say if done correctly, exercise could reduce pain and help prevent re-occurring or new back injuries.

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