Pilates Exercises are an exercise method that focuses on improving posture. Bad or poor posture is a major cause of back pain. People with tight hamstrings and flat spine (with a diminished S curve) or with an accentuated curve to the lower spine, commonly suffer from lower back pain. Improving your posture when sitting, standing, and performing your daily routine, will help prevent and alleviate lower back pain. Pay attention to how you sit and stand; correct your posture as soon as you notice that you are hunching or slouching. The following Pilates Exercises can help strengthen your core muscles and improve your posture, thus alleviating or preventing lower back pain.
- Connect Abdominals by lying flat on your back. Bend knees with feet hip distance apart. Place hands on stomach with thumbs touching the rib cage and fingertips towards belly button. While breathing in feel rib cage expand and contract abdominal muscles, pushing the rib cage down when you exhale. Repeat 10-12 times.
- Pelvic Tilts are a great to improve mobility in the lower back. Lying on your back, arms at side, knees bent, tilt your pelvis to flatten the lower spine against the floor. Hold position for count of 5 and repeat 10 times.
- Pelvic Curls can be done for spinal articulation by those who feel comfortable. You will want to start in the neutral position, press down through your feet. Allow the tailbone to curl up toward the ceiling, the hips, lower back, mid back and upper back will follow. Come to rest on your shoulders. You should have a straight line from your hips to your shoulders. Do NOT rest on your head or neck. Keep abdominal muscles tight throughout exercise. Hold position for a few breaths then as you exhale slowly curl spine back towards floor, one vertebra at a time. Repeat 3-5 times.
- Leg lifts will strengthen abdominal muscles. Lie on your back, flatten lower back to floor. Inhale and as you exhale, lift one foot off the floor. Inhale and lift other foot off the floor and as you exhale put one foot on floor and inhale to put other foot on the floor. Exhale to relax and then repeat sequence 4 times keeping pelvis stable and abdominal muscles tight throughout.
- Back stretch exercises will stretch and lengthen back muscles. You will need an exercise ball to perform these Pilates Exercises. Sit on ball with legs bent and feet a little further out than perpendicular. Put your hands behind your head. Keep shoulders down and back. Tilt pelvis forward and then slowly curl spine over the ball. Relax the neck and head. Breathe in and out three times. Relax into the stretch on every exhale. Return to a sitting position. Now, kneel in front of the ball. Roll body over ball, hang arms to the side and relax them. Extend legs and breathe in and out, relaxing into stretch with each exhale. Repeat entire sequence 3-5 times.
Routinely practicing these Pilates Exercises will improve your posture, strengthen core muscles and teach breathing relaxation techniques that will decrease or prevent lower back pain. Check with your physician before starting any exercise regimen for lower back pain.