Do you suffer from a stiff or painful back ? I have come across this a lot over the last year. I have clients in their 30’s and even those in their 20’s with serious back complaints.
Why is this becoming so common even in younger people? Do you get up with a stiff back and feel like you cannot move all day? If so read on...
My husband who is in his early 30’s inspired me to write about this topic. He has been complaining about his back for two years now and it took
him a while to be convinced that a slow paced physical activity like Pilates would help with his back pain. How he took up Pilates is another long post. (!)
Neck, upper back and lower back are the most common problem areas affecting everyone. There is so much information about the negative impact of a sedentary lifestyle already, I know many of you are also looking for some help with this issue. Slow paced mat exercises are the best for easing your back pain. Relaxing on a mat after a tiring day really helps to reduce tension on your back. There are so many exercises that you can do and here are some that will keep your back healthy.
1. Hip Rolls
I think this is one of the best exercises for your lower back.
- Lay on your back with feet and knees together, shoulders relaxed.
- Bring your knees and feet together and move them as one to the side.
- Let one side of your hip and your lower back move naturally following your legs and keep both shoulders on the mat. (pictured).
- Bring your hips and your legs back to the middle as you keep your torso relax, take a deep breath and exhale when roll your legs to the other side.
- Repeat this slowly 8 – 10 times.
Here is a very basic version of a shoulder bridge, it is a great exercise as it moves every part of your back!
- Curl and lift your hips off the mat, sequentially lifting up your lower back and your mid- back slowly as your shoulders remain relaxed on the mat and you reach a neutral bridge position.
- Take a deep breath in and sequentially articulate every part of your back and return your hips to the mat.
- Repeat this slowly around 8 times.
3. Waist Twist
Don’t forget to move when you are sitting, you can do this exercise even when you are at your desk while sitting or standing.
- Sit up tall (If you find sitting up tall hard, due to tight muscles around your hips you can sit on a high cushion).
- Bring your arms in front of your chest and keep your shoulders relaxed.
Make your spine very tall and turn your head and your upper back to one side slowly.
- Take a deep breath in and bring your lower back and then your upper back to your start position.
- Repeat this 4 -5 times on each side.
- Make sure your shoulders stay relaxed throughout the movement
4- Cat Stretch
The cat stretch works, it is genuinely easy and promotes nice posture and also strengthens your wrists.
- Start in a four point kneeling position: hands are in line with your shoulder and place your knees are in line with your hips.
- Make sure your back is upright and your neck is in line with your back.
- Curl your tailbone in and continue to flex your lower back and your back sequentially.
- Make sure you are curled into an even position, not a hunch, then slowly begin your movement with your head and your hips at the same time and then return to your start position.
- Repeat it around 8 times.
5- Diamond Press
This exercise works well for your upper back and your neck.
- Lie on your stomach, bring your hands in front of you and rest your forehead on your hands.
- When you are ready slowly lift your chest (around 1 inch off the floor) and lengthen your head away from your shoulders.
- Breath in and then lower your chest down to your mat. Repeat this around 8 times.
- If you feel tension on your lower back please put a thin towel underneath your stomach and practice it with a relaxed lower back.
Even if your back pain is persistent it is essential to move it and try to be as active as possible. Spending too much time sitting is likely to harm your back more. Core muscles support your back and for that reason Pilates is great for improving your back's health.
I hope you find these exercises helpful. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.