Back Pain is no fun no matter what age you are. Anyone can obtain back pain from poor posture, standing too much, sitting too much, playing sports and during other activities.
According to the American Chiropractic Association (ACA), there are up to 31 million people in the U.S. with low back pain. Each year, about 50% of working adults in the U.S. report back pain, making it one of the leading causes for missing work. Back pain disables more individuals younger than 45 than any other cause, and forces 13 million people to visit the doctor annually.
All the doctors’ visits and treatment plans make for an expensive public health issue. Nationally, people spend about $50 billion annually to find relief.
Let’s talk about what we can do to prevent back pain. No matter what the cause, strengthening the core and releasing tension and tightness around the upper and lower back can help back pain. Pilates will help you relax and unwind mentally and these exercises will help keep your core strong, your back supported, and your muscles lengthened and released. The exercises below will connect you to your deep core muscles. When we strengthen our core, it helps us hold everything in and prevents us from straining our back.
Please always remember to listen to your body and do the modifications and/or variations that are best for your body! Everyone’s bodies are different and we all require a different “recipe”. Try incorporating these exercises regularly to keep your spine healthy, back strong, core engaged and joints flexible. Go slow, be gentle, and don’t do anything that hurts.
This exercise is highly useful in maintaining strength in the low back. Pelvic bridging is also a great exercise that strengthens the quads, the hamstring muscles in the back of the thighs, the abdominals and your glutes.
Lie on your back with knees bent and just your whole foot pressing into the floor. Push through your whole foot, squeeze your backside, and lift your hips off the floor until shoulders, hips, and knees are in a straight line. Your palms should be flat on the floor alongside your body.
Relax your upper body and make sure you don’t roll into your neck. Hold in an up position for a slow count of 10. Inhale as you slowly lower your body back to the start position in one piece. Keep your abdominals engaged to avoid sagging in the low back or glutes. Perform two to three sets of 10 to12 repetitions.
Swimming strengthens the back, but you must keep a long spine and use abdominal support for it to work. Lie on your stomach with the legs straight and together. Keeping your shoulder blades settled in your back and your shoulders away from your ears, stretch your arms straight overhead. Pull your abs in so that you lift your bellybutton up away from the floor. Reaching out from your center, extend your arms and legs so far in opposite directions that they naturally come up off the floor.
At the same time, get so much length in your spine that your head moves up off the mat as an extension of the reach of your spine. Keep your face down toward the mat – don’t crunch your neck. Protect your lower back by anchoring your pubic bone to the floor. Continue to reach your arms and legs out very long from your center as you alternate lifting right arm/left leg, then left arm/right leg, pumping them up and down in small pulses as fast as you can. Think about the length, not the height of the body.
PARTIAL CHEST CURL
Some exercises can aggravate back pain and should be avoided when you have acute low back pain. Partial curls can help strengthen your back and stomach muscles. Lie with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Cross arms over your chest or put hands behind your neck. Tighten stomach muscles and raise your shoulders off the floor.
Breathe out as you raise your shoulders. Don’t lead with your elbows or use arms to pull your neck off the floor. Hold for a second, and then slowly lower back down. Repeat 8 to 10 times. Proper form prevents excessive stress on your low back. Your feet, tailbone, and lower back should remain in contact with the mat at all times.
If you only have time for one pose, this is the ultimate core move. It really works the entire midsection, deep core muscles and the back, waist, hips, legs, buttocks, arms, and shoulders. Lie on your and place your elbows under your shoulders, tuck under your toes and press firmly through the back of your legs and heels.
Engage your lower abs and tighten your core as you lift your body up off the floor coming in to one straight line of energy from head to toe. Don’t let your ribs splay open or your butt sag or lift too high. Hold for 30-60 seconds then lower down. Repeat 2 to 3 more times.
This is a nice way to end this low back series. It helps align the spine and takes pressure off the lower back and is an easy and restful stretch for the back. Start on hands and knees. Bring hips toward heels as much as possible. Stretch your arms out in front of you so that palms are resting gently on the floor.
Relax your forehead to the ground, and breathe deeply. If you need more lower back stretch keep knees closer together. If you need more hip stretch keep knees further apart. To come out, crawl your hands toward your legs and slowly sit up. Let the head be the last to come up.
Repeat and hold as needed.