We can all be guilty of poor posture especially if we are working at desks all day or are stood up for long periods of time. General back pain from looking down at our phones or reading a book can also cause some discomfort but what can you do about it?
Below are some gentle but effective exercises to release tight, sore muscles and help with your posture. You can follow the step by step instructions and also watch the video below.
1. Sit on the floor with your legs out in front of you (if you have tight hamstrings then feel free to have a slight bend in your knee). Try to sit nice and tall as if you had your back against a wall.
2. Lift your arms in front of you so they are parallel to the floor with a slight bend in the elbow.
3. Gently curl forward over your legs (imagine you are trying to touch the wall in front of you) and aim to make your spine curved like the letter C.
4. When you have gone as far as you feel comfortable, slowly re stake your spine one bone at a time until you are sitting up nice and straight again.
Repeat 5-6 times
Quick Tip: Remember to use your tummy muscles to help you by breathing out as you roll forward and breathe in when you re-stack your spine.
1. Lie on your back, knees bent, feet on the floor. Make sure your ankles are in line with your knees and your chin is tilted down slightly so your neck is nice and elongated with a slight arch at the bottom of your spine.
2. Imagine your pelvis is a clock (6 o’clock is your belly button and 12 o’clock is your groin). Push your back to 6 o’clock, so the arch disappears.
3. Arch your lower back to 12 o’clock (your groin) so you create an arch at the bottom of the back. This arch will be quite big and you need to make sure it isn’t painful and that you aren't sticking your chest out as all the movement needs to be from your pelvis.
Repeat 5-6 times
Quick tip: This exercise can be quite challenging. Put your hands on the bony part of your hips (at the front of your body) and as you arch your back feel your hips move up and towards your thighs. As you push your back on to the mat feel your hips move up and back towards your belly. Try to inhale as you arch your back and exhale as you push your back down.
1. Starting in the same position as your pelvic tilt, exhale and gently push your back to 6 o’clock. Slowly lift your bottom off the floor, then your middle back, then your upper back so you are in a diagonal line.
2. Inhale at the top and slowly lower your back down. Start with the top of the spine, then the middle (6 o’clock), then your bottom. Finish in the starting position - slight arch under the bottom of your back.
Repeat 5-6 times
Quick tip: Think of this as a bigger pelvic tilt to help you with the back movement. Also make sure that you don’t let your legs start to open up – you can put a rolled-up towel/cushion between your knees to squeeze to help with this.
1. Starting in the same position as the pelvic tilt, lift both arms up so your finger tips are pointing to the ceiling.
2. Gently lift one arm up as high as you can (imagine you are trying to touch the ceiling. Your shoulder blade will lift off the floor slightly) and then slowly drop the shoulder back onto the floor.
Repeat 5-6 times on both sides
1. Sit on the floor, legs out in front of you with a slight bend in your knees.
2. Interlink your fingers together and place then at the base of your skull, letting the elbows come round either side of your head.
3. Mindfully begin the nod the chin towards the chest and curl your spine forward (imagine you are trying to touch the crown of your head to your knees). Gently pull on the back of the head to increase the stretch down your neck – there should be no pain just a gentle stretching sensation, see video for more detailed instructions.
4. Slowly begin to re-stack your spine back up into the tall posture.
Repeat 2-3 times
Quick Tip: I advise watching the video for this one so you can visualise the move better. All moves should be very gentle and you should stop if you feel any discomfort.
1. Come back on to all fours and set yourself up in your Four Point Tabletop - hands under shoulders ans knees under hips.
2. Inhale to prepare and then exhale and round your back to the ceiling (like an angry cat). Tilt your head under to look at your knees and tilt your pelvis under like a mini crunch. (you should feel a lovely stretch in your back/shoulders).
3. Inhale and drop the abdominals down towards the floor, letting your head and bottom arch towards the ceiling.
Repeat 5-6 times
Quick tip: Your arms should always stay straight. When you come into the Cow position, imagine you are a turtle! Your head should come forward then up – this stops your shoulders from rising up around your ears.
1. Come onto all fours and put your toes together, knees apart by about 6-10 inches.
2. Push gently through your hands so your bottom lowers towards your heels keeping your arms straight.
3. Put your forehead on the floor and take some nice deep breaths. Hold this position for approx. 20-30 seconds before gently coming to stand.
Quick tip: Spread your fingers wide and actively push through the palm of your hand to push your bottom closer to your feet. Try to rest your forehead on the floor but don't worry if you can't!
Well done on completing your quick Pilates routine for posture and general back ache!
If you would like to try a Pilates class or a 1-2-1 session than please feel free to see my pricing page to book class credits. Or, if you have any questions, please feel free to contact me for a no obligation chat.
NB: If you are concerned about any pain you are having or if your pain has lasted longer than 1 week, I advise you to contact your GP for further advice. The exercises on this page are given as general advice and do not replace the advice of a GP/Physiotherapist. Please only attempt if you deem yourself fit/well enough to do so.