In the world we live in, it is common to sit for meals, work, socializing, as well as for a lot of our recreation time. This contributes to back pain being one of the most common issues we hear patients continue to struggle with. Although spending many hours of our day in a sedentary position may be unavoidable, there are proactive ways to neutralize the effects this has on our posture. Many people complain of pain in the shoulders, neck, lower and upper regions of the back, and often it is due to poor posture.
We have put together a basic, 10-minute practice of Pilates and Yoga postures. When incorporated into your daily routine, they help to stretch and strengthen muscles, re-hydrate connective tissue and balance the nervous system. Even this small investment of time can help immensely, if you are diligent each day at working these key muscle groups. The Pilates exercises incorporate resistance training and core strengthening to work on posture and balance. The Yoga exercises focus on stretching, alignment and act as a release for some of the tension that builds up in the shoulders and back.
Do these exercises gently and never push into discomfort or pain. If your back pain is not improving after doing these for a week, then consult with your physiotherapist or physician.
You do not need any equipment for these exercises, only a mat on the floor. Just make sure you are relaxed and dressed in stretchy, comfortable clothing so that you can move easily.
Exercise 1: Upward facing dog:
Img credit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FsKHQ81Cbdk
This makes an excellent start to the routine as it stretches out the shoulders and back while bringing your awareness to issues with posture. Start lying flat on your mat with your stomach on the ground and chest all the way to the floor. Place your hands directly underneath your shoulders, gently lift your head and chest while rolling your shoulders up and back. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and carefully lift the tips of your shoulders towards your pelvis, which you will find brings your chest slightly up. Continue to build on this motion by exerting a bit of pressure into your palms to lift your chest, sternum and ribs off the ground. Don’t push yourself to the point of pain, though, only go as far as you feel comfortable. Keep your heart and shoulders open at the top with a long, lifted neck. Your back should be so engaged that you could release your hands while keeping the chest upright.
Hold at the upright position for 15 seconds, and then roll back to the floor.
Repeat this 5 times.
Exercise #2: Threaded Table Top
Img credit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FsKHQ81Cbdk
From your previous position, push yourself upwards onto your hands and knees, so that you are in what is called “Table Top Position.” Your knees should be directly underneath your hips, hands directly underneath your shoulders, with a flat back and strong neck. Begin by stretching your left arm outwards, and then bring it towards the ground and thread it underneath your right arm. It should reach far out towards the right, stretching out the shoulder blades and area in between. Use your right hand to give you leverage to twist even deeper, and intensify the stretch when your body becomes comfortable.
Take a couple of deep breaths and hold this position for a minute and a half. Then, repeat on the opposite side by bringing the right hand underneath the left shoulder.
Exercise #3: Pelvic Curl
Lay flat on your mat with your hands palm face down by your sides. Bring your knees towards your bottom, hip distance apart and about 6 inches from your rear. Tuck your hips all the way up, and then begin to lift your back one vertebrate at a time while inhaling slowly. Make sure to squeeze your glutes to keep your knees hip distance apart. Then, hold the pose for 10 seconds at the top, before beginning to exhale, lowering your back by pushing one vertebrate at a time back into the mat. This works not only the core, but also strengthens the quads, glutes and hamstrings. Do 2 sets of 5 lifts.
Exercise #4: Table Top tap-downs
Remain in the same position as the last exercise, lying on your back. However, this time with your knees bent to 90 degrees so that your thighs are perpendicular to the floor and calves raised parallel to the ground, knees directly over the hips. Engage your abs by carefully scooping the lower belly and pushing the small of the back into the ground so that the exercise works the correct muscles. Lie on your hands so that they are in the small of your back. Ensure that you feel the compression of your spine into yours hands. Slowly lower your bent right leg, touching your right toes to the ground but not exerting any pressure. Then, slowly raise your right leg back to the starting position and then repeat with the left. Make sure that you maintain the compression of your spine into your hands the throughout the entire exercise. Frequent breaks may need to be taken if you are not able to do this. Both sides should take about 8 seconds to complete. Repeat this set of each side 5-10 times.
Exercise #5: Happy Baby
To end your routine, a classic yoga stretch that is sure to make your lower back happy and relaxed. Bring your knees into your chest and then to the side of your torso so that they face the ground. Then, position your calves and feet to face up towards the ceiling at a 90-degree angle from your chest. Flex your feet and grab the middle of the soles with your hands from the inside. Once you have established a balanced position, simply rock from side to side for about two minutes to give your back a good stretch.
This quick routine incorporates a couple of easy, favorite Yoga and Pilates exercises that are beginner-friendly. It is always a good idea to consult a qualified yoga or pilates instructor or your physiotherapist if you are wanting to advance these exercises. We hope you have found them useful! If you have any questions about the therapies we offer to minimize chronic back pain, or how we work with relieving a recent back injury, please call our clinic or book an appointment online with one of our physiotherapists. We wish you a happy start to your summer from everyone here at Summit Physiotherapy!