Hi all, Today I thought i’d give some tips about how to relieve your back with some pilates exercises and some simple stretches. This might be helpful if you have been sitting all day long in front of your computer, hunched over, legs crossed or even after a long trip sitting at the back of a car/plane.
I myself have back issues and if I’m not careful or if I’m generally stressed or tired, my back can seize up and pull to one side – making me uncomfortable and even more stiff. I used to work in retail so I had to stand around for 4-6 hours, sometimes 8 hours so my ankles and feet and the way I stand used to affect my back. If I had to do stock or VM, there would be heavy boxes being lifted and lots of bending over and twisting and that hurts my back too.
For the last 3 weeks, I changed my jobs so apart from teaching pilates, I now spend hours and hours in front of a desk and computer. Instead of my legs and ankles giving me problems, it’s now the way I sit that affects my back. Unfortunately when we get so engrossed with work, we don’t often think of the way we sit but now after 3 weeks – my back is killing me!
Simple Stretches to Release your Glutes, Hamstrings and Hip-flexors
Generally if you have back pain or a sore back, you want to want in a neutral spine or as close to a neutral position without pain. Please consult your doctor if you have been diagnosed with an injury and they will prescribe appropriate exercises as some injuries prevent you from flexion or extension. These following exercises are just simple stretches to relieve some sore/stiff back. A good way to start is actually from your feet up – a sore back may be caused from tight hamstrings, tight hip-flexors, tight shins/calves (if you have been standing all day). I would start with a glute stretch, a hamstring stretch and then a hip-flexor stretch.
Start lying down on a flat surface (not a bed!) on a mat or carpet. Just lengthen your arms and legs and breathe for a few seconds to release any tension in your lower back, neck and shoulders. Try to identify which part of your spine is stiff/sore.
Lying Glute Stretch
Hamstring Stretch with Towel/Theraband/Stretch Band
- Keep your hips square as much as you can – don’t hike up your working hip.
- Legs doesn’t have to be dead straight, a slight bend is ok. Just breathe and relax in the stretch no more than 30 seconds and then switch to other side.
Hip flexor Stretch
- I also like to work in an imprint for this stretch, just a slight tuck of the tail under and you should feel a gentle stretch in your hip flexor. Do this before lunging forwards to increase the stretch.
Now that we’d freed up your hips and legs, let’s get your spine moving!
Pilates Exercises to move and free up your spine.
Spinal Rotation/Spine Twist
(Taken from stottpilates.com)
1. Starting position. Hips are stacked, knees bent in tabletop, a slight lift under your waist so you’re not sinking into the mat. I usually like to have the bottom arm tucking under my head to support my neck. The top arm is reaching long in front of your shoulders.
3. Return back to starting position and repeat 3-5 times then switch over to your other side. Feel your spine rotate and spiral further each time you do this.
1. Sitting one one side with knees bent and together. Have a stretch out to your side, resting on your elbows and reaching the top arm long. Think about lifting up from underneath so your spine is in an arc rather than a long stretch. You should be feeling this in your obliques too.
Mini Swan Stretch
1. Only do this if you feel it’s ok for your back. Great to open out the chest and extend through your spine. Only come up as far as it’s ok and comfortable for your spine.
2. Keep lifting up your tummys and don’t sink down into your lower back.
3. Legs are turned out and hip distance apart so you can facilitate a bigger range through your extension.
My Favorite: Shell Stretch
Note: These exercises are not meant for a workout. It’s just a gentle stretch out at the end of the day after sitting or standing all day long at work or after a long trip. Correct form should be encouraged and be gentle! Just keep breathing and enjoy!!