According to the Mayo Clinic, Pilates exercise tones and strengthens the body through low impact movements focused on breathing control and mind-body connection. Pilates offers a variety of exercise options and is touted as having benefits for managing low back pain due to core strengthening movements. Prior to beginning any new exercise routine, physician consultation is suggested to ensure adequate health for managing the physical demands of the exercises.
Spine Stretch Forward
The spine stretch forward targets the abdominal region and back strengthening. Sitting tall on the floor with legs straight and feet positioned hip width apart, extend the arms toward the feet reaching forward. Keep the feet flexed with toes pointing up toward the ceiling. Lower the head between the extended arms as if in a diving motion. Inhale deeply, then exhale while stretching the fingertips forward toward the toes as the hips and back maintain a still posture. Keep the back straight while moving the upper body forward towards the feet. Much like a hinge the upper body folds toward the feet stretching the spine, arms and back. Return back to starting position and repeat the spine stretch forward three to five times.
Sit tall with knees bent and heels on the floor as the toes point toward the ceiling. Place hands on the outside of the lower thigh with legs positioned hip width apart. Roll the upper body back toward the floor but stop halfway down keeping the back and shoulders off the floor. The lower back maintains leverage on the floor and the head faces forward as if looking past the knees. The arms remain straight with hands holding the outer thighs to maintain stability. The abdominal area tightens during each inhale and exhale. Hold the posture for three deep breaths, then roll back up to starting position. Repeat the exercise three to four times.
Kneel with head facing down toward the floor as the arms and knees hold the body up. Keep the knees underneath the hips, hands underneath the shoulders and the head aligned with the spine facing downward. Lift the left leg upward with knee bent and heel facing toward the ceiling. Pulse the bent leg toward the ceiling for 10 to 20 pumps. Pull the knee in and place back on the floor then repeat the exercise with the right leg. Repeat pulses for each side three to four times.
Kneel on the hands and knees with head facing down toward the floor. Straighten the legs, as if in a push up motion, keeping the arms straight and head aligned with the spine. The hands and feet hold the weight of the rest of the body above the floor. Do not lock the elbows completely during this posture. Hold the pose for eight to ten breaths then pull the legs in with knees bent on the floor. Repeat the plank position four to six times.
About this Author
Aureau Walding has been a contributing writer for online journals about health and mental-health topics since 2005. Walding has published health and fitness articles for LIVESTRONG.COM since 2010. She received her master’s degree in clinical social work and a Ph.D. in health psychology from the University of Missouri Kansas City.