Get back at your bad back
I often find myself in conversations about back pain and postural problems these days, and it’s not just limited to Pilates sessions. People I randomly meet say, “Oh, you teach Pilates? I’ve heard that would be good for my back. You see, I have this herniated disk…” and soon after hearing about their skateboarding accident or work-related strains, I find myself trying to help these people figure out how to take care of their backs.
I’m not a doctor. I don’t even play one on TV. But I do know that there are many things Pilates can do to help you strengthen your lower back and protect you from further injuring yourself.
Our backs are tricky beasts that don’t always cooperate with what the rest of our bodies want to do. There are times when you should stretch and times when you should rest your back and stay away from physical activity. But for general aches and pains, most of the time stabilizing with core strength is the key to a healthy, happy back.
Here are a couple of exercises to do just that:
1. Lying on your stomach, place your hands under your forehead on the mat. Keep your upper body relaxed. Contract (pull in) your abdominal muscles and slowly raise one leg a couple of inches off the floor. Hold for five counts and release. Alternate legs. Do this 5 times each leg, slowly. Then push back and sit on your heels reaching your arms in front of you along the mat (Child’s Pose) to stretch out your back.
2. Lying on your stomach again with hands under your forehead, this time keeping your toes on the mat. Contract your abdominal muscles and slowly life your head, chest, and arms off the mat in one piece (hovering over the mat). Don’t go too high – imagine creating length in your body so you will grow longer from the top of your head to your toes. Doing this ensures you will not arch your back. Gently lower down. Repeat 5 times, slowly. Again sit back on your heels and stretch.
Once you are feeling stronger you can do the first exercise with both legs lifted. And most importantly, if you have acute or constant back pain you should always consult a doctor before trying new exercises.
Questions? Concerns? Call!