If your back needs more flexibility and stronger muscle support, try these basic exercises.
CAT / COW STRETCH
The flexion and extension of this exercise mobilise the spine and increase flexibility in the shoulders. The core muscles are also strengthened and stretched.
Inhale to prepare. As you exhale, tighten the abdominal muscles and leading with your pelvis, tuck your tailbone under and roll your spine upwards, one vertebra at a time – you should be looking at your knees in this position. (Imagine trying to draw your wrists and your knees closer together to intensify the work in your core.)
Inhale again and as you breathe out, roll your spine downwards, from upper back to lower back. Slide your shoulder blades downwards (as though trying to tuck them into your back pockets!). Bring your chest forwards, into cow stretch.
Repeat 5 or 6 times.
SEATED SPINE TWIST
Strengthens all of the core muscles, helps trim the waist, and mobilise the spine with rotational movement.
Inhale to prepare and as you exhale, tighten your abdominal muscles and twist from the waist to one side, looking towards your arm behind you. As you turn, lift taller and straighter. Inhale again to return to the centre, then repeat, turning the other way.
Perform 5 – 6 times each way.
SIDE-LYING DOUBLE LEG LIFTS
Strengthens the core, oblique muscles (at the side of your waist), inner thighs and gluteal muscles.
Inhale to prepare. On exhalation, tighten the abdominal muscles and lift both legs away from the floor, squeezing the inner thighs together. Inhale to lower the legs slowly, keeping your torso still throughout the movement.
Repeat 6 – 8 times on each side.
Strengthens the spine extensor muscles, shoulder blade stabiliser muscles, triceps and abdominals.
Lie on your front with arms by your sides, palms up and feet apart. Inhale to prepare and as you exhale, pull your abdominals in and peel your chest away from the floor. Lift your arms and rotate them from the shoulders so that your palms are facing your thighs. Draw the shoulder blades together and down – imagine gripping a pen between your shoulder blades. Engage your abdominals throughout and keep the neck long, looking down on the floor. Inhale to return to the start position. Repeat 6 – 8 times.
Please get in touch for more details about PILATES CLASSES and ONE-to-ONE with CLARE PALMER. All levels.
Email: email@example.com Tel: 01885 482 279 / 07941 707 789 Facebook: Pilates with Clare Palmer
Founder and editor of FitNet.
Previously gymnastics coach, massage therapist and personal trainer with 20 years of experience. Former gymnast and dancer.