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Health and the City More Back Pain?

Stephanie Ross, in conjunction with Virgin Active, finds Pilates a useful treatment for the alleviation of recurring back pain.


tore a muscle in the lower back two years ago as I turned and reached behind me hurriedly for some essential item in Waitrose that I had almost forgotten. I felt my back “go” and then couldn’t move for almost a week. It seemed to heal with swimming, yoga, pilates classes and all the other exercise that I do at Virgin Active Barbican. Now it’s back – the muscle won’t “turn off”. It's constantly painful and everything seems to aggravate it. The Homerton Hospital's Sports Medicine Consultant tells me that as we get older there is less cushioning in the spine, maybe a bit of arthritis or a slight scoliosis, too much sitting at a computer distorts the posture – even if you do a couple of hours of sports a day! The solution that we are trying is acupuncture to prod the muscle a bit more than a massage can and also daily Pilates to strengthen the surrounding smaller, deeper muscles.

Lavinia Rouse, Dancer and

Reformer Pilates Instructor - with many years experience (ten of them at her independent Reformer Pliates studio within Virgin Active Barbican) - has been helping me. She works with individuals and groups of four to six people using reformer machines and other smaller items of equipment that can isolate and work specific muscles groups.

It’s all about correcting the body’s alignment, toning, conditioning and strengthening the smaller, deeper muscles to support and take some strain from the larger muscles. The benefit of Reformer Pilates over the general studio mat-based classes is that Lavinia can easily identify your imbalances and work on your exact injury or problem using her experience and specialist equipment. Lavinia has a diverse group of clients – people like me with severe back pain and other injuries, but also fit and healthy people like dancers and athletes who are strengthening and conditioning

to enhance their sporting performance.

She also treats ladies during pregnancy and following child-birth - as a mother herself she knows the issues from both sides.

Lavinia trained with Alan Herdman, one of the pioneers of Reformer Pilates in London in the ‘70’s. He treated her for a serious back injury during her professional dancing days and she was so impressed with his skill and teaching that she joined him as an apprentice – going on to qualify and set up her own successful business some years later. If you would like to know more or book an appointment (open to both Virgin Active members and non- members) please see her website or email her at

Stephanie Ross

Lavinia Rouse


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