If you’ve ever tweaked your back, you understand that the pain associated with any muscle in the back is not fun. There are so many muscles in your back and any of these can get aggravated over time. You may feel pain in your neck that could be related to a muscle in your back that’s become over-extended. Sore back muscles are annoying and if left untreated it can lead to injury of surrounding muscles down the road. While back pain can be problematic, there are ways that you can ease this pain while strengthening these muscles in ways that will keep them stronger than they were before the pain took place!
The following article reveals 5 exercises that you can do today to ease back pain and put your muscles in a position to prevent future issues with your back.
Note: If you have chronic back pain, you should consult a physician before taking on any exercise routine.
See the article below and be sure to share this with any of your friends looking for some relief from back pain.
Pelvic tilt is taught to almost everyone who has back pain, especially low back pain. It teaches us to use our abdominal muscles in a way that supports and lengthens the lower back. Here we start with pelvic tilt, and for those who feel comfortable, move to a spinal articulation with pelvic curl:
Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Your feet, ankles, and knees are aligned and hip-distance apart.
This exercise starts in neutral spine. In neutral spine, the natural curves of the spine are present, so the lower back is not pressed into the mat.
Begin Pilates Pelvic Tilt
Exhale: Do a pelvic tilt by engaging your abdominal muscles, pulling them in so that your belly button moves down toward your spine. Let that action continue so that the spine lengthens and the abs press the lower spine into the floor.
In the pelvic tilt position, your back is very long against the floor, and the pelvis is tilted so that the pubic bone is a little higher than the hip bones.
Inhale to release back to the floor, or go on to pelvic curl:
Inhale: Press down through your feet allowing the tailbone to begin to curl up toward the ceiling. The hips rise, then the lower spine, and, finally, the middle spine.
Come to rest on your shoulders at the level of your shoulder blades, with a nice straight line from your hips to your shoulders. Do not arch beyond this point. Support this movement with your abdominals and hamstrings.
Exhale: As you let your breath go, use abdominal control to roll your spine back down to the floor. Begin with the upper back and work your way down, vertebrae by vertebrae, until the lower spine settles to the floor.
Inhale: Release to neutral spine.
Repeat this exercise 3 to 5 times
Swan prep strengthens the back extensors, the muscles the hold us upright. These muscles are often weak and over-stretched in people who have back pain.
Develop this exercise slowly. You might not come up as high as our model. That’s OK. Just a few inches to start is fine.
Begin Pilates Swan Prep:
Lie on the mat face down.
Keep your arms close to your body as you bend your elbows to bring your hands under your shoulders. Shoulders should be away from the ears.
The legs are usually together, but it is acceptable to do this exercise with the legs shoulder-width apart.
Engage your abdominal muscles, lifting your belly button up away from the mat. The abdominals remain lifted throughout the exercise.
Inhale: Lengthen your spine, sending energy through the top of your head as you press your forearms and hands into the mat to support a long upward arc the upper body. You might come up just a few inches.
Keep your neck long. Don’t make a crease by tilting your head back.
Protect your low back by sending your tail bone down toward the mat.
Exhale: Keep your abdominals lifted as you release the arc, lengthening your spine as your torso returns to the mat in a sequential way: low-belly, mid-belly, low ribs and so on.
Repeat 3 to 5 times
Kneeling Arm and Leg Reach
This exercise teaches core stability — something very important for those suffering from back pain.
Begin Pilates Kneeling Arm and Leg Reach:
Start on your hands and knees.
Your hands are directly under your shoulders, and your knees are directly under your hips. Make your legs and feet parallel and hip distance apart.
Your back is in a neutral spine position (allowing the natural curves), and supported by your abdominal muscles which are pulled in. Don’t let your back sag or arch up.
Your neck is treated as a long extension of your spine. So your face is parallel to the floor, gaze down.
This exercise requires shoulder stability. Take a moment to slide your scapula (wing bones) down your back so that your shoulders are away from your ears, your chest is open, and your scapulae are settled on your back, not poking up.
Inhale: Extend your right arm straight in front of you and your left leg straight behind you at the same time. Your arm and leg will be parallel to the floor.
Balance. Hold one to three breaths.
Exhale: Return to hands and knees.
Inhale: Extend your left arm straight in front of you and your right leg straight behind you at the same time.
Get more detailed instructions and tips for kneeling arm/leg reach
Cat / Cow – Pilates for Back Pain
Cat-cow moves between a back stretch and a back extension exercise. It promotes flexibility in the spine. Many people use it as a warm-up exercise.
Begin Cat – Cow:
Begin on your hands and knees. Your hands are directly under your shoulders, and your knees are directly under your hips. Your toes can be curled under if that is comfortable.
Engage your abdominal muscles to support your spine so that you have a straight line from your ear to your hip.
Inhale. Then, on your exhale, pull your abdominal muscles in and up as you arch your back way up like a stretching cat. At the same time, let your head and tailbone drop down toward the floor.
Take the stretch further by imagining that you are bringing your head and tailbone together, as if you were going to make a big circle of your body.
Next, move to the cow pose part of this exercise:
From cat pose, use an inhale to reverse the curve of the spine. Your tailbone moves up, and your chest moves forward and up. Your neck moves as a long extension of your spine. Don’t let your head fall back.
Support this move with your abdominals. This is a lengthening exercise for the spine. Please don’t collapse like an old horse!
Repeat the exercise – going from cat to cow and back – slowly, with the breath, at least two more times.
Swimming takes the strength of the back extension work a little further than swan prep did. It strengthens the back, but you must keep a long spine and use abdominal support for it to work.
Begin Pilates Swimming:
Lie on your stomach with the legs straight and together.
Keeping your shoulder blades settled in your back and your shoulders away from your ears, stretch your arms straight overhead.
Pull your abs in so that you lift your belly button up away from the floor.
Reaching out from your center, extend your arms and legs so far in opposite directions that they naturally come up off the floor.
At the same time, get so much length in your spine that your head moves up off the mat as an extension of the reach of your spine. Keep your face down toward the mat – don’t crease your neck.
Protect your lower back by anchoring your pubic bone to the floor.
Continue to reach your arms and legs out very long from your center as you alternate lifting right arm/left leg, then left arm/right leg, pumping them up and down in small pulses.
Bonus challenge: Coordinate your breath with the movement so that you are breathing in for a count of 5 kicks, and out for a count of 5.
Do 2 or 3 cycles of 5 counts – moving and breathing in, and 5 counts moving and breathing out.
Spine stretch is a good stretch for both the back and the hamstring. But it also teaches you to support and control that stretch by using your abdominal muscles.
Begin Pilates Spine Stretch:
Sit up tall on your sit bones.
Your legs are straight in front of you about shoulder width apart. Your knees face the ceiling, and your feet are flexed.
If your hamstrings are tight you can sit on a small pillow or a folded towel. You can also bend your knees slightly.
Reach the top of your head to the sky but let your shoulders stay relaxed.
Inhale and extend your arms out in front of you, shoulder height.
Alternatively, you can place the fingertips on the floor in front of you between your legs.
Exhale as you lengthen your spine to curve forward. You are going for a deep C-Curve. Don’t collapse. Let your abdominal muscles support you in an up-and-over move.
Reach your fingers toward your toes.
Inhale and reach a little further as you enjoy the fullness of your stretch.
Exhale and initiate your return by using the lower abdominals to bring your pelvis upright. Roll your spine up to sitting.
See the remaining exercises from verywell.com here.