From gardening to grocery shopping, back pain makes everything harder.
Kate Lillis, instructor and owner of Colorado Active Pilates in Loveland, Colo., says back pain is most often caused by the overuse of back muscles that are compensating for other weak core muscles.
“Everyday habits, like standing, sitting in your car or even running several miles daily may seem perfectly normal. But if your back likes to compensate for weak abdominals, tension will build in the back,” Ms. Lillis says.
Pilates combines breathing, flexibility and strengthening exercises designed to train the body in more-efficient patterns of movement. The goal is to strengthen and relax by balancing muscle groups and getting them to work in concert, Ms. Lillis says.
She recommends these beginner moves to help ease tension-related back pain and strengthen the deep core muscles. (People who suspect their pain is caused by a herniated disk should consult a physician and seek private Pilates instruction.)
“Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat, arms long by your side. Draw your navel to your spine. Imagine a pulley between your low abdominals, the space just inside your hip bones, and your right knee. On an inhale, bring your right leg up to tabletop, where your knee is just over your hip and your shin is parallel to the floor. On an exhale, lower the foot back to the ground. Repeat on the other side.”
“Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground, arms long by your side. Draw your navel to your spine. On an inhale, bring your right knee up to tabletop. On an exhale, bring your left leg up to table top. Take a breath in. On an exhale, touch one toe to the ground and bring it back up to table top. Repeat on the other side. Imagine drawing the navel in and up through the top of your head. Go slowly and keep your navel to your spine.”
“Lie on your back and draw your navel to your spine. On an inhale, bring your right knee into your chest and then your left knee into your chest. On an exhale, curl your head and shoulders up off the ground. Gaze just above your knees and slide your rib cage toward your pelvis. Inhale, hug your right knee into your chest and extend the left leg up to the ceiling. Exhale, switch legs.”