6 Back-Strengthening Moves
The Pilates exercises in this set are frequently recommended to help prevent and decrease back pain, including low back pain. They strengthen core support for the back, teach good alignment, and provide gentle stretches for tight back muscles.
1. The Glute Bridge
Lie on your back with your feet on the floor, hip distance apart. Using your bum, raise your hips off the floor. From there, roll the spine back down on to the mat, working on the lower back to isolate and strengthen your glutes and hamstrings. This is good for your core and helps lengthen the lower-back muscles. Beginners should do three sets of 12 repetitions.
2. The Plank
Lie flat on your front, elbows down. Go up on your tiptoes so only your toes and forearms touch the floor. The main muscle in use is your core; but by squeezing your bum, the glutes are also activated. Hold that plank position and aim for 30 seconds at a time. To make it easier, go on your knees, not tiptoes.
3. Back Extension
This strengthens your lower back. Lie on your front, hands down beside you, and raise up through the chest: with your neck slightly long and chin tucked inward, squeeze the shoulder blades together. Then slowly lower yourself back down.
4. Roll Backs
Moving the spine using the abdominal muscles as done in this exercise, helps to not only stretch and relieve tension in the back muscles, but also helps to strengthen the core and abdominals. It immediately creates a greater ease of movement in the spine.
Sit tall with the legs bent comfortably out in front and feet on the floor. Hands placed on the back of the thighs.
Breathe out and begin curving the spine starting from the tailbone, rolling backwards until arms are straight and the whole spine is curved in a C-shape. You should feel as though the navel is the furthest point pulling backwards.
Hold there and breathe in. Breathe out and bring the body forward, keeping the C-curve, until shoulders are over the hips, then stack the spine up to a straight, tall position. Repeat 6-10 times.
5. Kneeling Arm And Leg Reach
This exercise works the entire stabilizing muscle system for the torso.
Kneel on all fours, ensuring the hands are under the shoulders, the knees are under the hips, and the spine is in neutral.
Without moving the torso at all, reach one arm forward and the opposite leg back keeping the fingertips and toes on the ground.
Lift the extended arm and leg off the ground, keeping the navel pulled in to help stabilize the torso. Hold for a few second before bringing the hand and leg back down and to the start position.
6. Hamstring Stretch
Lay on back. One leg bent (foot flat on the floor) and other leg lifted straight towards the ceiling. (Use a towel or resistance band to hold leg up if needed)
Keeping leg straight, pull the leg towards you as much as possible without twisting, until you feel a stretch.
Keep breath flowing and try to relax. You should feel a stretch in the back of the thigh.
Hold for 15-20 seconds and then repeat with the other leg.