Back pain? This is the Pilates routine you need in your life

Stretch out your sore back with these simple at-home exercises created by former Olympian and fitness expert Steph Prem. 

Photo: Steph Prem/Supplied

Back pain is as common as the cold and flu these days. Poor posture, sedentary behaviour due to our jobs, stress and overdoing it at the gym (and with our exercise regime) can all lead to an unhealthy and unhappy back.

As a former professional athlete with a list of injuries – specifically, a back injury – I understand how debilitating back pain can be and the importance of good back health. For me, Pilates is the saving grace when it comes to back pain and should be incorporated into your everyday routine. Pilates engages all the muscles required to support your spine and correctly use your deep abdominal muscles as well as improving your posture and overall body awareness.

These are my 4 favourite Pilates go-to’s to be used as a daily practice or to compliment your current exercise program.

You’ll need: A yoga mat or carpet.

Tip: Try this routine before you go to bed to aid in a better night’s sleep.


x 10 reps

Spinal articulation is wonderful for reassuring your body that you can get moving and get strong whilst in pain without aggravating the pain/ spine. The bridge move is great as it improves blood flow, articulation of the spine and encourages a relaxed breath pattern.

Start by lying flat on your back in neutral spine and come into a bridge with your glutes engaged and your belly pulled into your spine. Take a big deep breath in through your nose, then combine a big exhale out your mouth with a glorious articulated roll down through your spine back to neutral.

Photo: Steph Prem/Supplied

Photo: Steph Prem/SuppliedSource:BodyAndSoul

Hip openers

x1 each side for 10 breaths

A great move for relieving lower back tension is first removing tension from your hips, creating space for your lower back to ease and relax. With your palms firmly on the ground, extend your right foot back behind you into a low lunge with back knee on the mat. Shift weight of the hand onto the left hand and extend your right hand up to the ceiling, allowing your gaze to follow your hand. Hold here for 10 breaths. Repeat on the other side.

Photo: Steph Prem/Supplied

Photo: Steph Prem/SuppliedSource:BodyAndSoul

Hip flexor/psoas release

x1 each side for 8-10 breaths.

Short and tight hip flexors can attribute massively to stiff and inflamed lower backs. Try this stretch to give yourself some relief. Come down to the mat into a kneeling lunge position, then squeeze the glute of the rear leg and imagine driving the knee back and into the ground, while having the hip sink down and forward. Keeping your spin straight, engage your core and don’t arch your back or let the pelvis tilt forward. To really add to this stretch, raise your arm (same arm as the back leg) to the ceiling.

Photo: Steph Prem/Supplied

Photo: Steph Prem/SuppliedSource:BodyAndSoul

Hamstring release

x2 each side for 5 breaths each

Tight hamstrings can put increased stress on the lower back and can aggravate or even cause some of the conditions that lead to lower back pain and sciatica.

I like to alternate this hamstring stretch with the hip flexor stretch above by simply extending one leg and sitting back on my back foot and leaning forward to touch my toe or ankle, holding for 5 breaths.

Photo: Steph Prem/Supplied

Photo: Steph Prem/SuppliedSource:BodyAndSoul

For more workouts like this, including Steph’s new Energy & Performance Program powered by Voome, please visit:

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