Lower back pain is one of the annoying inevitables in life for almost everybody. In many cases, lower back pain plagues the corporate professional sitting at a desk or athletes from repeatative movements. The good news is that majority of cases are relatively mild and can be managed at home. Pilates is an example of a beneficial exercise that'll help alleviate some, if not all, of your pain.
If you are new to the idea of Pilates, take a look at these five soothing Pilates exercise that'll provide you with some relief.
- Supine Spinal Twist: This is such a great Pilates exercise because the gentle rotation of your body provides a way of softly massaging the spine while creating a deep stretch in your back muscles. When you continue to do this exercise on a regular basis, it will also build more strength in your oblique muscles which are needed to offer proper support for the spine. To do this Pilates exercise, place an exercise mat or towel on the floor. Gently lower yourself onto it until you are lying down on your back. Bend your knees while keeping your feet straight and planted firmly on the floor. Your hand can be outstretched to the sides in a horizontal position. When you begin this exercise, it is important to keep your knees together. This can be hard at for people first learning the exercise, so consider placing a towel in between your legs for more firm placement. Keeping your shoulder blades firmly planted into the mat, lift your legs up and slowly rotate them from left to right. Once you have rotated your legs to once side, gently pull them back up to the center, remembering to exhale fully. You can do this exercise five times on each side, striving to hold each rotation for 10-15 seconds.
- Roll Backs: Not only will this Pilates exercise soothe and strengthen the spine, it will also give your abdominal muscles a good workout, both strengthening them and toning them up! The purpose of roll backs is to relief some of the tension and stiffness in your spine and lower back, while gently massaging the area and alleviating some of the pain. To do this exercise, start by sitting down on an exercise mat with your legs out in front of you. Keep your feet on the floor with your knees loosely bent. Your hands should be placed on your thighs. From this position, begin very slowly rolling your upper body down toward the mat. Remember to exhale as you are doing this movement. First, your tailbone should lead in this movement, followed by the rest of your spine one vertebrae at a time. When you do this, your upper body will not make contact with the mat. The point is to slowly roll yourself back until your spine is in a C shape, with your bellybutton pointed inward. Once you have achieved this position, you should hold yourself in it long enough to inhale deeply. From there, reverse this position by returning to the sitting position with your back straight and your upper body tall. Repeat this five times or as many times as needed.
- Arm and Leg Reach: This Pilates exercises requires a bit of balance, but after trying it a few times you'll get the hang of it! By doing the arm and leg reach exercise on a regular basis, you will better stabilize and strengthen the muscles that support your torso. With added strength in these areas, you will be less prone to lower back pain and other back injuries. To begin, get on all fours on an exercise mat. Do a quick check of your posture, making sure that the palms of your hands are firmly planted in the mat and directly beneath your shoulders. You don't want them too far behind or in front of you, but instead perfectly aligned with your shoulders. You should keep your spine straight and your knees underneath your hips. Imagine that your body is a table; that is what your posture should look like in this kneeling position. Next, extend your right arm forward and your left leg back. Both of these limbs should be as straight as possible. Do this exercise without moving your torso at all. You want it as straight as when you first started. This might feel a bit tricky at first, but if you continue to practice you will find it easier to do. After holding this position for ten seconds, lower your arm and leg back down. Extend your left arm and right leg to get an even stretch and workout. Hold this for ten seconds before repeating again on the other side. Aim to do 5-10 sets or as many as needed.
- The Hamstring Stretch: It is not uncommon for people who are suffering from lower back pain to be plagued with the issue due to tight hamstrings. If you can stretch your hamstrings and build flexibility, there will be a decreased risk of injury in your legs and back. If your lower back pain is caused by tight hamstrings, once you stretch those hamstrings, you can expect fast relief. And when you keep up with your hamstring stretches, it will lead to better overall posture in your back and the rest of your body. For this exercise you will need a mat and a towel or resistance band. Start by lying belly up on your back. Bend your left leg and proceed to lift your right leg up, keeping it as straight as you can (this will be difficult at first for anyone who still needs to build flexibility in their legs). The key is to bring your extended leg toward you as mush as possible until you feel a deep stretch. A towel or resistance band will help you get a deeper stretch without affecting your posture. Once you feel the stretch in your leg, hold it there for 15 seconds before switching and stretching the other leg.
- Chest Lift: This is another Pilates exercise for lower back pain that doubles as a core strengthening exercise. Begin by lying on your back and bringing your hands behind your head. Bend your knees and lift your legs off the floor. From this position, slowly lift your chest toward your knees as much as possible before slowly lowering yourself back down. It is very important to keep your lower back firmly planted into your exercise mat. People commonly bring their lower back up off the mat when they do this crunch-style exercise and this will only cause more problems for the back. Keep your spine in a neutral position with everything but your shoulder coming up off the mat.
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