3 pilates moves to combat back pain
When we work from home our desk set up is understandably less than ideal. Chances are we’ll be sat in a chair that is far too comfy (hello sofa), leaning over looking down at our laptops, and not taking regular breaks like we might at work. All this can lead to a sore lower back, a tight upper back, and a pretty stiff neck.
To help reduce the effects of working from home we need to focus on strengthening the upper back extensors (the muscles that help us sit up straight), stretching out the neck extensors (the muscles that pull our heads back to look at our screens), and keep our abdominals active. Here are 3 top exercises for each of these.
1) Spine Lengtheners: this exercise targets the upper back extensors that will help you sit straighter
Lie flat on your front, with your feet hip-width apart, your hands under your forehead like a pillow and your pubic bone gently pressing into the floor to help keep your lower back neutral. Breathe in and activate your abdominals and on the exhale gently lift your hands, head and chest away from the floor until your body is in a long, low line. Inhale to stay here and exhale to slowly come down with control. You are not aiming to come up to a height that resembles a backbend, and your legs should not lift off the floor – you are aiming for a long, straight line with your spine.
2) Postural Chain Stretch: this stretch helps loosen off the muscles in the back of the body, and is ideal for those who are tight through the back of their neck from looking at their screens
Start standing with feet hip-distance apart and soft knees. Roll down from the crown of your head, one vertebra at a time, until your hands are as close to the ground as possible without bending your knees further (they should still be soft). Once here, interlace your fingers and put your hands on the back of the head. Straighten your legs, and use the weight of your arms to gently pull your head towards your knees. You should feel an intense stretch up the back of the body, particularly where you are tightest.
3) Abdominal Prep: this is one of the best warm-up exercises for the abdominals and will help to keep the core active without putting too much pressure through it.
Lie on your back, knees bent, feet flat on the floor and fingers to temples, elbows wide. Make sure you have a neutral pelvis (do not dig your lower back into the floor). Inhale to prepare and as you exhale lift the head and shoulders up away from the floor by sliding your ribs down towards your hips. Inhale to hold it here, and on the exhale slowly lower yourself back to start position. As you do this keep your pelvis neutral, move slowly and try not to dig your chin into your chest.
Aside from these exercises, people who are wfh should consider their work “desk” set up. Other than the obvious no-no’s such as working in bed (this will ruin both your sleep hygiene and sex life) or working from your sofa, try to find a seat and desk/table that allows you to sit up straight. We are aiming for a position where you have 90 degree bends at your ankles, knees, hips and elbows. You shouldn’t feel like you are looking down too far to see your screen and your shoulders should stay relaxed away from the ears. Take regular breaks, get your body moving, and if all else fails, sit on the floor with your laptop on a coffee table and change positions when you get uncomfortable.
Pilates PT are live-streaming their much-hyped Pilates PT Method through virtual classes, as well as their Dynamic Mat Pilates and pre-natal Pilates sessions, available to book through the Pilates PT Website. All you need is a mat.
Virtual classes from their much anticipated new plan, The Bump Plan, are available for pre-natal women in their second or third trimester, as a teaser before the plan launches. These have proved great at providing a sense of security and reducing isolation in pregnant women during this time. Also on the timetable.