What Works for Me – A Little Pilates!

Here’s the short routine I do most mornings to relieve my lower back stiffness and pain. It’s been working great for me for many years.

You probably have a similar experience – some mornings my back is better that other mornings. So I vary my routine slightly – if I’m feeling great I do a bit more. But whether I feel good or bad, I don’t overdo it, just a few exercises that take about 5 minutes! That’s to make my back feel better, not for exercise.

Exercise is a whole other important part of managing my back – see my previous post “Preventing Back Problems from Getting Worse.” Full-body exercise is a must for keeping my back from getting worse as well as for overall health. So if you don’t exercise regularly, time to start, if you don’t want pain to rule your life!

Hard to believe 8 of 10 people have a back problem at some point in their lives. Most of these back problems will be life-long. Like mine. But it doesn’t have to be debilitating. My back problem is always there, but it doesn’t define me or limit my activities, at least not after I do my little morning back-rehab exercise routine. Same exercises a physical therapist once suggested for me – I did see a professional about my back years ago, several, in fact. One doctor suggested surgery. Another suggested these exercises and if they didn’t help come see her again to talk surgery. That was the first tiome i ever heard of Pilates. that was nearly 40 years ago. Now, i teach it!

Here’s what I do and I do it all gently like a warm-up – let the ‘dynamic stretch’ do its magic! And remember, before you even experiment with these or any other exercises, get your back problem looked at by a professional. That’s the first step, because though most back pain is just that, it can at times be a sign of “…heart attack, aortic aneurysm, abdominal and pelvic inflammation, cancer and many other diseases,” says Dr. William O. Witt. “It is therefore critical that back pain not be ignored and that you tell your doctor.”

If physical therapy is prescribed breathe a sigh of relief because you are about to be introduced to exercises first developed by Joseph Pilates nearly 100 years ago! And after your back problem has subsided I highly recommend learning the entire Pilates routine. There are many fine online programs with free beginners lessons such as at PilatesLessons.org. Anyway, here is my routine:

  • 3-5 Leg Circles – I do these slowly and gently with my leg as straight as i can get it, but it doesn’t have to be straight. You can bend it as much as you want.

  • 3-5 Single and Double Leg Stretches – these are just so effective. I can feel the stretch right where my back needs it most. I go very slow with these.

  • 3-5 The Saw – again I go real slow and it’s not very comfortable but when it’s over my back feels so much better!

And on those days when my back feels really good I add:

  • 3-5 Rolling – can’t do this every morning – sometimes when it feels like this will strain my back I just skip it.

  • The 100 is a Pilates classic which I do in the easy beginner version.

  • And finally I add 3-5 Roll Ups which is the Pilates sit up. I do the beginners version as I teach in the video below. Again, I don’t do this every morning, just when my back feels good enough to. Sometimes, not always. On the days  can do it, it feels great!

So let me know how these lower back exercises work for you.

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Celebrating 4 decades specializing in Pilates mat instruction with a mission to make it simple to learn the way Joe Pilates originally intended.

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