It's not uncommon for lower backs to tighten up and cause chronic pain. Let's dive in to some ways you can help prevent or ease the stress on your low spine.
The key to a happy and healthy spine is a combination of mobility and stability. If you can find an easy balance of those two ideas, your low back tensions are bound to ease up. Keep in mind that this post is focusing on those who don't have any pre-existing conditions, and if you do (or something feels off), we encourage you to see a doctor before trying any recommendations. So, how do I mobilize and stabilize, you ask? Here's my top 3 favourite Pilates exercises to help you do just that:
3 easy exercises to try at home
Pelvic Tilts (Imprint and Release)
Start lying on your back with your knees bent, and feet flat on the ground. Place your thumbs on your lowest ribs and your index fingers on your hip bones. All this exercise asks, is that you use your abdominal muscles to move your index fingers towards your thumbs. So you're rocking your pelvis up closing the space between your fingers, and releasing it back just to your starting position. It's important that you keep your glutes off and not let them take over and do the work. Think of tucking your tail between your legs - but using your abs to make that happen! This simple exercise is helping you mobilize your lumbar spine through flexion and extension, while stabilizing your core abdominal muscles. (Remember: don't over work. It's important to teach your muscles easy firing patterns before going into big movements. This is not a crunch!) (10 reps)
Leg Lifts (Tabletop)
Start lying on your back with your knees bent, and feet flat on the ground. Start with a light engagement of your core, and see if you can lift one heel off the ground. Try the other heel. Progressively lift your foot higher and higher off the ground until you've reached a 90 degree angle at your hip and knee joint - this is called tabletop position. Alternate one leg at a time lifting and lowering from starting position to tabletop. The key to this exercise is to make sure your hips aren't doing the hula. Keep your pelvis as still as you can and don't let any movement happen in your spine. This exercise is helping you mobilize your hip joints through flexion, while stabilizing your core and your lumbar spine. (8 reps each leg)
Spinal Rotations (Twists)
Start seated in a comfortable position (either legs long, crossed, or on a cushion). Arms can either be long out to the sides or crossed over your chest (corpse pose style). Find that light abdominal engagement and rotate your torso to the side. Pause in your rotation position for a nice deep breath before returning to the center. Alternate sides keeping your core engaged throughout. This exercise is helping you mobilize your spine in rotation, while stabilizing your core abdominal muscles in an upright position. (Remember: don't let your pelvis dance. Keep your sit bones anchored down so that all the movement is coming from your spine!) (5 reps each side)
Take these 3 exercises home, try them out, and let me know how it felt. If you need some words of encouragement, or extra support I am here to help. Book a private session with me and we can go into much more detail on these exercises and more!