Lower back pain is one of the most common problems faced by people all over the world. There are many factors that contribute to lower back pain, and lots of products and services that claim to help people ease lower back pain. Most of these offerings offer temporary solutions, where the pain may go away for a few hours or days but they will eventually return. It is not that these solutions do not work, but rather they tackle the symptoms rather than the root cause.
There are many causes of lower back pain, it can come from poor posture, sitting too long, standing too long, lifting up heavy objects, lifting up light objects. Most of the time the root cause is the inappropriate posture performing day-to-day tasks, form and strength of your core and the muscle groups you rely on. Hence, a more long term solution to helping the issue is to focus on building good core strength and awareness of your body movement. Here’s where Pilates helps. Pilates was designed as an exercise to help you build core strength and achieve awareness of your body’s movement. Whilst often confused with Yoga for seeming similar (check back soon for our post on the difference between Yoga and Pilates), Pilates focuses on building core strength and cultivating a habit of mindful body movement and awareness.
There are plenty of Pilates classes available in the market that you can sign up for but today, let’s focus on some simple exercises you can do at home to help you build core strength and mindful body movement.
Simple Exercises To Help You Relieve Your Aches & Pains
1. Pelvic Clock - Helps release tension in the lower back, but prepares the spine for movement.
On a firm surface, lie on your back with bent knees.
Ensure that your heels are aligned with your sitz bones.
Using your pelvis, trace a circle
Extra Tip: Imagine your pelvis is the face of the clock and try to hit all the numbers on the clock. Be careful not to shift your knees or other parts of your body.
2. Bridging- Builds strength in lower back and gluteus.
Lie on your back with knees bent (same as pelvic clock)
Peel your spine off the ground to the widest part of your shoulder blades by initiating the curl from your tailbone.
Heaving a big giant exhalation at the top,
Bridging - Upwards Movement
Bridging - Downwards Movement
simply lifting up your booty and squeezing it. Bridging really does MORE when you try to do it slowly and segmentally.
3. Mermaid- Improves mobility in the spine/trunk in side-bending and rotation.
Sit in a Z-sit position.
Bend towards one side with the opposite arm above your head like forming a rainbow.
Ensure that hips are planted down firmly, keep your gaze forward.
Add a rotation of the upper torso by reaching the top arm forward and under as if you are trying to wrap your belly, chest and arm over a giant beach ball.
Mermaid (Side Bend)
Mermaid (Side Bend) Rotation
Mermaid (Side Bend) Backview
4. Book Opening- Stretches your back by opening up the thoracic spine. Similar to the reclining twist in yoga.
Lie down on your side,
Cushion your head with your bottom arm (you may also use a pillow or towel to support your head).
Keep knees and legs stacked as if you are sitting on a chair.
Align your knees to your belly button.
Lengthen your lower waist by keeping a long line from the crown to the tailbone.
With your top arm stretched forward, fingers in line with your shoulders, draw a rainbow with your fingertips all the way to the back wall, keep your gaze fixed on the fingertips.
Extra Tip: Resist the temptation to pop the head of the arm bone out of the shoulder joint, especially once the arm crosses the midline.
5. Baby Swan - Correct posture by strengthening upper back. With most of our time spent in front of the computers and phones
This exercise is also performed in a variety of ways with different arm placement and various degree of extension based on the practitioner. Here’s one basic version that is suitable for beginners:
Lie on your chest and belly,
Line fingertips next to your shoulders.
Float your face slightly off the mat as if there is a bubble in front of your face.
Circle your gaze forward and up, keep the back of your neck long by tucking your chin in and sending your throat back.
Extra Tip: You should feel a nice stretch across your chest, from collarbone to collar bone, as well as your upper back as you experience your widening shoulder blades.
6. Quadruped- improves awareness of our body in space, hip mobility, shoulder alignment, and helps build upper body strength.
This is often-times called bird-dog and commonly prescribed for people with back pathology.
Start on all fours, with palms and knees on the ground (knees about hip-joint width distance apart), with a fairly flat back (imagine you are trying to balance 3 glasses of water – 1 on your head, 1 on your upper back and 1 on your sacrum).
Slide 1 leg out along the floor and gradually float the leg up and lift the opposite arm up without scrunching the shoulder towards your ear, while maintaining a fairly stable trunk.
Extra Tip: Ask a friend to help you as a spotter to ensure that you do this exercise in the proper form.
Tip from our experts
Solving your lower back pain one day at a time will require you to choose at least 2 to 3 of the exercises mentioned above. You don’t have to spend a lot of time on it, but spending 5 to 10 mins a day on these will help you develop the strength and awareness you need to help you find relief for the lower back pain.
Alternatively, you can try out a Pilates Mat or Pilates Reformer class. Pilates instructors can better guide you so that you can be more aware of your form and practice the exercises correctly. Just remember, even if you do sign up for a Pilates Class, it is the daily routine and habits you form that will ultimately help you get rid of that lower back pain!