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How to do Pilates Exercises for Back Pain

pilates exercises for back painThe Pilates exercises for back pain can actually help reduce and prevent back pain especially lower back pain. These exercises provide gentle stretches for tight back muscles, to relax the muscles which are tense, offer good alignment, and help fortify the core support for your back.

Back Pain affects all of us at some point in our lives. Usually, us older people are immensely affected by back pain problems. Due to aging, our muscles and nerves start to degenerate gradually. In due course, this degeneration can lead to muscle weakness and eventually, chronic back pain.

These exercises help improve strength, suppleness, and flexibility of the hip muscles. They  also help create awareness of movement habits which stress the spine, so that you can change such habits to maintain neutral alignment. Proper use of focus and awareness of excessive tension will help you use your body efficiently.

All of the above is why at the ripe old age of 65 I started to exercise 5 days a week to keep my body moving.

Pilates Exercises for Back Pain

Pilates focuses on the neutral spine position which is the perfect or the most functionally ideal posture for your body. It works on deep abdominal (core) strengthening that helps in creating stronger spine muscles support.

You will find over time the stretching and building your core muscles will become so much easier and stronger, even starting at 65 like I have I have noticed a huge difference.

Following are some of the top proven Pilates exercises to relieve back pain:

1.) Pelvic Tilt

This easy but effective back pain exercise engages your deep core muscle and strengthens your spine’s support system:

  • Pelvic Tilt Pilates ExercisesStep 1: Lie down on your back, bend your knees and place your feet flat on the floor.
  • Step 2: While exhaling, gently lift your pelvic floor muscles.
  • Step 3: Pull your navel in toward your spine. It will stretch your lower back.
  • Step 4: Inhale and relax the pelvic muscles, and return back to the starting point.

2.) Swimming movement

This exercise is great for strengthening your back muscles. To get maximum benefit, you need to engage your abdominal muscles for support and keep a long spine during the entire movement.

  • Swimming movement Pilates exercisesStep 1: Lie down on your stomach on the floor and keep your legs together to form a straight line with your body.
  • Step 2: While stretching your arms straight ahead, engage your abdominal muscles by pulling them in. Keep your shoulder blades away from your ears.
  • Step 3: Stretch your legs and arms out and lift them up off the floor. Raise your head up off the floor and lengthen your spine to allow your entire body to stay in line. Use your pubic bone as an anchor to the floor to protect your lower back. Make sure to keep your gaze down to prevent neck crunches.
  • Step 4: Perform the swimming movement by lifting left arm and right leg, then right arm and left leg. Pump your limbs up and down as fast as possible. Don’t worry about the height, just focus on the length of your limbs.
  • Step 5: Do the swimming motion for 30 to 60 seconds.
  • Step 6: Repeat the entire routine 2 – 3 times.

3.) Chest Lift

In this image they are twisting (they are doing this to look at the camera) it is better not to twist, just go with in instructions below.

Steps to do chest lift exercise:

  • Chest lift Pilates exercisesStep 1: Lie down on your back on the floor and bend your knees, hands behind your head and feet flat on the floor. You need to engage your core muscles and pelvic floor.
  • Step 2: Exhale and raise your chest and head by keeping your pelvis still and stomach flat.
  • Step 3: Inhale and return back to the original position.

4.) Child Pose

Steps to do child pose exercise:

  • Child Pose Pilates ExercisesStep 1: Begin on your knees and hands. Try to bring the back of your hips near your heels as much as you can. For more hip stretching, keep your knees farther apart, and for more back stretching, keep your knees as close as possible.
  • Step 2: Rest your palms on the floor and stretch out your arms in front of you. Take a deep breath and gently push your forehead to the ground.
  • Step 3: To return back to the starting position, you need to crawl your hands back to your legs and then sit up slowly. Your head should be the last to come up.
  • Step 4: Repeat the entire routine at least ten times.

5.) Hamstring Stretch

When doing this you can use a towel to put around your foot, then bring your let up, one thing I found when doing this was to try and keep my knee straight,(the leg that the towel is holding) when you can master this you will really feel the stretch in the back of your leg.

Steps to do hamstring stretch:

  • Hamstring Stretch Pilates ExercisesStep 1: Lie down on the floor on your back. Bend your left leg and keep the left foot flat on the floor. Lift your right leg straight upwards.
  • Step 2: Pull the straight right leg towards you as much as you can until you feel a stretch. Try to relax and keep breathing. You’ll also feel a stretch in your thigh’s back.
  • Step 3: Hold the position for 15 to 20 seconds and repeat the entire routine with your other leg.

6.) Supine spinal rotation

This exercise will help stretch your back muscles and strengthen the oblique muscles to improve spine support. I have also included another image of a similar exercise which I love as it really stretches out the back and hip muscles, try both, you can really feel the stretch.

  • Supine spinal rotation Pilates exercisesStep 1: Lie down on the floor on your back by bending your knees, stretching your arms to the sides, and keeping your feet flat on the floor.
  • Step 2: Squeeze the knees together and slowly move them over to one side. You need to keep your shoulder blades attached to the floor.
  • Step 3: Hold the position for 10 to 15 seconds.
  • Step 4: While exhaling, pull your navel into your spine and bring your knees back to the starting position.
  • Step 5: Repeat the entire routine on each side as many times as you can.

7.) Kneeling leg and arm stretch

A great exercise for stretching the whole length of the body.

  • Kneeling leg and arm stretch Pilates exercisesStep 1: Attain a kneeling position on your knees and hands on the floor. Make sure that your knees are beneath the hips, your hands are beneath the shoulders, and try to maintain a neutral spine.
  • Step 2: Place the toes and finger-tips on the floor and stretch your left arm forward and your right leg backward without moving your torso. (In the image they have the right and right arm and leg forward, just change that to opposite sides).
  • Step 3: Raise the stretched leg and arm up off the floor. Make sure to pull your navel in order to steady the torso.
  • Step 4: Hold the position for a few seconds and return back to the starting position.
  • Step 5: Repeat the entire routine 3 to 5 times each side.

Note: If you’re finding it difficult to steady your spine and torso when lifting your leg and arm, you can perform the entire routine with legs and arms separately.

8.) Roll-Backs

Roll-backs involve spine movement using your abdominal muscles. It helps to stretch and ease tension in your back muscles as well as strengthens your core and abdominal muscles.

Steps to do roll-backs:

  • Step 1: Attain a sitting position on the floor by bending your legs comfortably in front and placing your feet on the floor. Place your hands on the back of your thighs.
  • Step 2: While exhaling, start to curve your spine beginning from the tailbone and roll backward. Your entire spine should attain a curved C-shape.
  • Step 3: Hold the position for a few seconds and inhale.
  • Step 4: Exhale and bring your body forward while maintaining the C-curve. Stop at the point when your shoulders are above your hips, then regain the starting position. Repeat the entire routine 6 to 10 times.

These exercises will not only help treat the symptoms of your back pain, it can even fix the root cause of the problem. However, make sure to consult your doctor or any Pilate’s specialist prior to opting for these exercise regimens. Based on the cause of the back pain, certain exercises may not be recommended. In certain cases, you may need to perform Pilates under the direct supervision of a qualified instructor.

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