Yoga and Pilates poses for relieving back pain
Pilates and yoga exercises are excellent ways to help prevent and decrease back pain, including persistent lower back pain. They strengthen core support for the back, teach optimal alignment and gently stretch tight back muscles. Even if you dedicate five minutes of your day to strengthening your back muscles by practicing simple Yoga and Pilates poses, you will notice a significant difference in your pain levels. Backs have three movements; stretching upwards, twisting and moving forward and backward. Regular Yoga and Pilates practice ensures muscles which support these movements are strengthened. We have put together our favourite back-strengthening poses below. Make sure you do these exercises mindfully – go slow, be gentle, and don’t do anything that hurts. Pelvic tilt The pelvic tilt is great for back pain as it teaches us to use our abdominal muscles in a way that supports and lengthens the lower back. To start, lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Your feet, ankles, and knees need to be aligned and hip-distance apart. Do a pelvic tilt by using your abdominal muscles by pulling them in so that your belly button moves down toward your spine. Continue so that the spine lengthens and the abs press the lower spine into the floor. Your back should be very long against the floor, and the pelvis tilted so that the pubic bone is a little higher than the hip bones. Swan prep This strengthens the back extensors, which are the muscles that hold us upright. These muscles are often weak and can be over-stretched in people who have back pain. Lie on the floor (preferably on a mat) face down. Keep your arms close to your body as you bend your elbows to bring your hands under your shoulders. Your shoulders should be away from your ears. Keep your legs together or shoulder-width apart. Engage your abdominal muscles, lifting your belly button up away from the mat. The abdominals should remain lifted throughout the exercise. Inhale: lengthen your spine as your press your forearms and hands into the mat as you form a long upward arc. Keep your neck long and don’t tilt your head back. Exhale: keep your abdominals lifted as you release the arc, lengthening your spine as your torso returns to the mat in a sequential way; low-belly, mid-belly, low ribs and so on. Repeat 3 to 5 times. Child’s pose Start by kneeling on your mat with your buttocks on your heels. With your toes together, open your knees to at least hip distance apart. Lean forward and drape your body over your thighs so your forehead rests on the floor. Reach your arms out in front of you. Alternately, you can leave your arms along your sides. Breathe deeply and relax. Release any tension you might be feeling in your lower back, neck, or hips. Sphinx Lying on your stomach, prop yourself up on your forearms with elbows directly under shoulders. Press firmly through the palms and tops of your feet and push your pubic bone forward. Breathe deeply – you are allowing blood to flow into the lower back for healing. Finish by holding the Child’s pose for a few seconds. Locust pose Lie on your stomach in a straight line with toes together pointing back, arms relaxed by sides, palms up. Place your chin on the floor and keep your head straight. Keep your arms close by your sides, then breathe in and push the backs of your hands into the floor while raising your head and chest and both legs up as high as you can. Legs up wall This pose is excellent for relaxing the muscles of the lower back and can also help with insomnia. Sit sideways as close as you can to a wall, then lie on your back and swing your legs up the wall so that your back is at 90 degrees to your legs. There are also many stretches you can do in bed to alleviate back pain.