Many people tend to think of core training as abdominal-based and often neglect training their back muscles. Our back muscles are just as important as our abdominal muscles, and in order to ensure a beautiful posture and healthy back, we must train both muscle groups to work well together. If we neglect any part of our kinetic chain (how all the parts of your body work and align together) our postural alignment will be thrown off, and this will eventually lead to pain and injury. While observing yourself in a full-length mirror, notice if your ears are in line with your shoulders, shoulders in line with your hips, and hips in line with your feet. If your shoulders naturally round forward, it is likely that you need to focus on strengthening your back muscles and opening your chest muscles.
The Pilates technique always demands focus on the whole body during any given exercise. Although this week’s exercises are about the back, you must remember to keep your abdominal muscles engaged while performing the exercises. This will help prevent the compression your vertebrae as well as develop your ability to have the front and back of your body work well together.
Exercise 1: Swimming
1: Lie face down with your legs straight and in line with your hips. Extend your arms above your head and in line with your shoulders. Pull your navel to your spine and lift your legs and upper body up off the floor. Keep the back of your neck long.
2: Lower the right arm and left leg to the floor. Without allowing the body to rock, switch sides continuously 10 times. Keeping the navel in will help prevent you from rocking side to side.
Exercise 2: Swan Dive
1: Lie face down with your legs straight and together, your hands under your shoulders, and your navel pulled in toward spine.
2: Extend your arms straight forward (without allowing your shoulders to raise). As you circle your arms open until they are both perpendicular to the body, lift your upper body and legs off the floor. Keep your head down until you’ve established your final position. Then lift your head and look forward.
3: Return to the starting position. Repeat 3 tp 5 times.
If your feel this bothering your lower back, try shortening your range of motion (not lifting as high off the floor) or only lift your upper body.