Many people are shocked to find out that prior to becoming a Pilates instructor, I had major back issues.
In fact, Pilates helped to fix my back pain! While this isn’t always the answer for everyone, many of my clients, and even friends, have found relief using a few basic Pilates exercises that focus on stabilizing the core to provide relief to the back.
Pilates combines core exercises with posture enhancing cues so that it’s a win-win for both the lower back and upper back in terms of pain relief.
I recommend doing the following daily Pilates routine — that’ll take you less than 5 minutes — to strengthen the front of your body and take pressure off of the back of your body. This will help relieve low back pain and also tighten your core so that you have a well-rounded group of stabilizing muscles.
These moves are great for people on-the-go because all you need is a soft surface, like carpet or a yoga mat.
Lying on your back with your feet on the floor, open your feet as wide as your hips. Reach your arms towards your heels. Take a deep breath in through your nose and fill your stomach up with air. Then, exhale through your mouth and pull your naval in towards your spine. To exaggerate this, as you breathe in slowly arch your low back up off of the ground, keeping your tailbone planted. Then, as you exhale press your low back into the ground as you tilt your pelvis towards your ribs. Repeat these pelvic tilts forward and back 10 times.
From the same position as above, tilt your pelvis so that your low back is pressing into the ground. Hold this contraction as you place your hands behind your head. Open your elbows wide. Keep your chin off of your chest, and pretend that you’re holding an egg in between your chin and your chest and you don’t want to crack it! Slowly curl your head, neck, and chest up and begin pulsing up 10 times into a Pilates Crunch. Slowly release down after pulsing for 10 crunches.
Half Roll Down
To do this move, imagine you are making a ‘C’ shape with your body. It’s important to make sure you aren’t pushing your abs downward in the starting position and are keeping your abs held up to help make the top of your ‘C’. You’re going to touch your fingertips to your thigh and ‘roll’ backwards while extending your arms. When your arms are straight you’re going to move back to your starting position. This is almost going to make you feel like you’re doing a crunch. This move is fantastic for working your abdomen!
Modified Toe Taps
This move can be done while laying on your back. Imagine you’re sitting in a chair while on your back, so your knees should be at a 90 degree angle. Your shins should form a parallel line to the ground. For best results, point your toes! Tap your toes all the way to the ground in a rhythmic fashion. I recommend doing this while alternating legs for 30 seconds! If you’re exercising to a song, try doing this to the beat.
Double Toe Dips
Starting in the same position as the modified toe taps, move both of your feet down at the same time. It’s essential to make sure you’re moving your legs down at the same time while also returning to the 90 degree bent angle for your knees. For this move, keep your feet flat. For best results, make sure you’re inhaling while moving your feet up and exhaling as they’re going down. This is another fantastic move to do to music!
Stephanie Mansour is a health & fitness expert and weight-loss coach for women.