Do these three moves for a healthy, strong, and mobile spine.
1. Lie on your back with knees bent and your feet on the floor a foot from your hips. If you don’t have carpet, lie on a mat.
2. Tuck your pelvis under so your lower back is pressing into the floor. Starting with your tailbone, lift one vertebra at a time away from the floor until you are in a bridge position. Stop when your hips are lifted and in line with your shoulders and knees on a diagonal line.
3. Hold the position and then roll your spine back down toward the floor.
4. Do 5 to 10 bridges.
To get the most out of this movement, perform it slowly. Imagine your spine is a string of pearls and you are trying to lift one pearl at a time. Do the same when you lower.
This is particularly good for spinal mobility. As we age, our spine starts to fuse together in different sections. This is a good move to prevent spinal fusion. It is also great for strengthening the buttocks and hamstrings.
1. Sit with your legs straight out in front of you. If this is uncomfortable on your lower back, place a towel or pillow under you, or do this exercise with your legs crossed.
2. Extend your arms out straight across and in line with your shoulders.
3. Pull your lower abdominal muscles in before you start in order to give your back support and added strength.
4. Rotate to the right side and then back to the center. Rotate to the left side and then back to the center again.
5. Repeat five times each side.
This movement focuses on spinal rotation and will strengthen the muscles of your lower back and obliques.
Roll Down, Roll Up
1. Sit tall with your legs extended straight in front of you. Reach your hands out in front, parallel with your legs.
2. Tuck your hips under as you start to roll your body down toward the floor. Roll all the way down. Your arms reach back behind you, over your head.
3. Reach your hands up and start to roll your body back up, all the way until you are sitting straight. If you get stuck on the way back up, press your hands into the floor to help you up.
4. It is important not to use momentum but to use the strength of your abdominals instead. Your feet should stay on the ground the whole time.
5. Lean forward over your legs to stretch your hamstrings.
6. Repeat six times.
This exercise is harder than it first seems and is fantastic for building strength in your abdominals. Like the bridge, it promotes spinal mobility.
Emma-Kate Stampton certifies Pilates instructors and is a certified personal trainer. She is based in Brisbane, Australia.