Many of the clients I see on a regular basis come to me because they have injured something or something is bothering them. The majority of the time it is related to a joint: the neck, back, shoulders, hips, knees—you get the picture. One of the most frustrating areas for people is the burden of back pain. From stiffness to stenosis, or even scoliosis, the general consensus is—it’s uncomfortable! Whether it’s the desk potato or the seasoned athlete, we’ve all been there (or will most likely arrive there someday).
So what can you do about it? Why I’m so glad you asked!
After getting clearance from your healthcare provider to begin an exercise program, look up an experienced trainer to get you started on the program that’s right for you and specific to your needs. Depending on what your level of severity is, here is a list of Pilates exercises from which you may benefit.
If you prefer mat work to equipment or are new to the method, a great start would be that of the pelvic tilt. Also known as imprinting and releasing, it is a gentle exercise safe to do every day that helps strengthen the pelvic floor muscles and increase blood flow to the lower back and feels great at relieving lower back strain. You simply lie on your back, knees bent, head and arms relaxed. Inhale to prepare and exhale to engage your core muscles as you gently tilt your pelvis back (think of pulling your belly button to the spine). Inhale to release back into neutral (or where you began). Repeat eight to ten times.
Toe taps are another great exercise to add after your gentle warm up and can be done lying on your back, legs table top, core engaged, and slowly tapping one toe down and then alternating it with the other on every exhale.
I won’t go into detail on all of the others, but I will note some of the most beneficial exercises such as: the hundred, the half roll back (with hands gently holding onto outer thighs), single leg circles, single leg stretch (modified with legs reaching up to ceiling as opposed to forty-five degrees), modified double leg stretch, scissors (with knees bent), lift and lower (with hands under lower back), modified spine stretch forward, side kicks and side-lying leg series, and wall roll-ups to name a few.
Some great reformer exercises (all mat and reformer exercises are modified according to the individual and their needs) are the footwork series, the hundred, bend and stretch, lift and lower, leg circles, stomach massage, elephant, running (it’s not what you think), and hip lifts or hip rolls.
On the Cadillac I’m a big fan of the roll down and if able, with the back extension prep—it’s absolutely glorious to all!
I also love the breathing exercises and ballet stretches. It’s so important to have limber hips and hamstrings for the back.
This is just a small snippet of exercises that could make your back feel better and strengthen your core. If you suffer from minor aches and pains to more severe issues and you’ve been approved for exercise, give Pilates a go—you will be so glad that you did!
Crystal Manjarres is the owner of One-On-One Fitness, a private personal training and Pilates studio for men and women on Marco Island. She is a Certified Personal Trainer, Licensed Massage Therapist, Certified Colon Hydrotherapist and Stott Pilates certified instructor. Her focus is “empowering men and women of all shapes and sizes”. To send in a question, email [email protected] She can also be reached at www.101FIT.com or www.PinkIslandFitness.com and 239-333-5771.