This 10 minute Pilates workout video will help you reduce low back pain by stretching, strengthening and stabilizing the muscles that support the spine.
Is back pain putting a real cramp in your style? If so, you’re not alone. Studies show that women are more likely to experience back pain — as well as other forms of chronic pain — than men.
(As if dealing with periods, child-birth and menopause weren’t enough, now we get to bear the brunt of chronic pain. Those men seem to get off so dang easy!)
To be fair, it’s not really the men’s fault. Things like differences in pelvic structure, hormonal changes and the physical impact of pregnancy are all contributing factors.
But just because you’re more likely to experience back pain, doesn’t mean you have to accept it. Whether you’re looking to prevent low back pain or reduce its intensity, a gentle Pilates routine that focuses on strengthening and stretching the muscles that support the spine will go a long way in helping.
So grab your exercise mat and press play on today’s home workout video.
Pilates To Reduce Low Back Pain
P.S. Did you know that back pain can be caused from having overly tight hips? Try these stretches and feel the difference!
It’s been a minute since I’ve posted a home workout video. I decided that I needed time to think about my approach to fitness, and how that weaves in to my overall healthy living message.
I wanted to get clear on where I stand on the fitness spectrum, and what kind of exercises I should be sharing with you.
It wasn’t necessarily easy.
On one hand, I knew how to create workouts that ticked all the popular boxes. High intensity, fast and furious, fat burning, calorie crunching, lean machine exercises. On the other hand, I didn’t actually like doing them all that much!
My workouts looked great on paper, but they didn’t feel great in my body. So even though I’d share them with my clients and readers, personally I’d often do something much more simple and gentle in my own routine.
It started making me feel a little hypocritical; you can do this, but I’m not going to. I was worried that if I shared what I really did, no one else would want to do it too. Golly, I’ve been known to break out into dance steps into the middle of a run, and will happily turn any workout into a hour-long stretch routine.
I was also a little concerned about what would happen if I couldn’t maintain my old level of fitness. Can I be an “pro” if I drop to my knees in pushups? Do I even want to be an “pro”?
I’ve decided that I don’t. I’m just your guide on the side for this healthy living ride.
And with that in mind, here’s where I’ve landed: I think that fitness should be simple, fun and functional. Moving your body should be a joy, not a burden, and the activities that you do should make you feel better in your every day life (not just in that 50 minute workout class).
Remember that fitness is a long-term commitment, and as long as you have the gift to be able to move your body then move it you should.
So I thought we could do a little experiment. Let’s train how I want to train for a couple of months and see what happens. It’s not going to be too intense, it should feel good during and wonderful after, and it will challenge us in a self-care kind of way. I might throw in a few curve balls too! Are you game?
If so press play on today’s workout video, where I’m sharing 5 of the best ab exercises to strengthen your core (it’s part two to this Crunch Free Ab Workout).
The Best Ab Exercises For A Stronger Core
Let me know what you think by leaving a comment below.
P.S. I filmed this video last year. I’m growing out my hair and it’s totally awkward at the moment, too funny for on-camera!
Today’s Pilates resistance band workout will strengthen your muscles, improve your posture, and increase your flexibility. All you need is a resistance band (a.k.a exercise band or Theraband) and your workout mat.
Pilates emphasizes core strength, postural alignment, mobility and breath, making it a really important component of your overall workout routine.
But to fully reap these benefits, your flow should be focused around the six Pilates principles: breathing, concentration & control, centering, balanced muscle development, flow, and relaxation.
Before we unroll our mats for today’s video, let’s take a quick peek at each of these principles.
In the words of my old mate Joe Pilates: “Breathing is the first act of life and the last. Our very life depends on it.” Breathing calms our wandering mind and allows us to focus on our physical body. In Pilates we INHALE through the nose and EXHALE through the mouth; a strong exhale activates the deep abdominal muscles. If you get confused with the breathing just remember to exhale on the most challenging phase of each movement.
Concentration & Control
Intentional movement focuses on form and alignment, rather than speed and repetition — it is better to do five perfect reps of an exercise, than 20 without paying attention. I encourage you to listen to your body, maintain your alignment, and modify any exercises that feel too challenging.
The core is the center of the body and acts as both your anchor and your compass. In Pilates we initiate the core before every movement, even for something as simple as lifting an arm or a leg. To activate your abdominals, exhale through your mouth while drawing the belly button towards your spine. If you notice your belly push out during an exercise, stop what you’re doing and reconnect your abs.
Balanced Muscle Development
Our body is designed to move in multiple directions, and we can use our Pilates workout to honor that. In today’s video we are tapping into EVERYTHING: front and back, side to side, bend and flex, and stretch and strengthen… it’s going to feel great!
Rhythm and flow is my favorite aspect of Pilates. It feels so natural for my body to move in a way that is fluid and functional, while also creating a calm sense of balance for body, mind and spirit. At first you may feel a little clunky trying today’s routine, but after repeating it once you will be able to flow with ease.
Remember, Jennifer Dene Wellness is about feeling fit, feminine and fabulous in the simplest way possible. Don’t make exercise harder than it has to be, and don’t believe the hype that workouts need to be exhausting to be effective. Use as much effort as you need to in order to perform each exercise correctly, but then no more. Relax your shoulders, relax your jaw, and at the end of the session take a few moments to simply lie on your mat and enjoy the stillness.
Choosing The Right Resistance Band
In the video I chat about choosing a the right resistance band for Pilates workouts. The bands that you can buy in a set of three, with three different weight tensions, tend to be too heavy and short for Pilates. Instead, I buy a long roll of Theraband and cut it into three generous lengths; blue is a nice weight for intermediate fitness levels. (Purchase your exercise band here.)
Now let’s do it to it!
Pilates Resistance Band Workout
This is an intermediate Pilates mat workout. If you are a beginner, move more slowly and take the most basic option in each exercise. I wanted to get as much done in 18 minutes as possible so I’m moving at quite a clip, you can always pause the video if you need a little more time. I recommend repeating today’s workout three times this week.
Now I’d Love To Hear From You
Did you enjoy today’s Pilates workout? I hope so! Which of the six Pilates principles do you find most challenging, and which comes most naturally to you? Let me know by leaving a comment below.
Last year I wrote an article for Mind Body Green that has since been shared over 20,000 times. Basically I’m explaining why, despite being a Pilates and personal trainer, I never want a six-pack. I guess it struck a chord with some people.
While you may think that having a six-pack equals strong abs, it’s not necessarily the case.
A six-pack is formed by strengthening the outer layer of abdominals — the superficial rectus abdominis — through crunches and similar exercises. And while it’s great to have strong outer abs, it’s what’s underneath that really counts.
Side note: You can absolutely have strong outer abs without seeing a “six-pack”. Usually a healthy level of body fat will prevent us from seeing this definition. And if having a six-pack means giving up cheese, bread and wine… I will always choose the cheese, bread and wine!
Before you press play on today’s workout, let’s take a peek underneath the hood at why core-strength is the new sexy:
The six-pack is the least important muscle for spinal support.
Without getting too technical, the deep core muscles (transversus abdominis and erector spinae) are what matters most when it comes to strengthening and stabilizing our spine. Here’s why they need your attention…
Improves posture — and reduces shrinking as we age
Helps with breathing and digestion, as correct postural alignment gives your organs room to do their thing!
A strong core can reduce the likelihood or severity of diastasis.
Diastasis is a separation of the outer abdominal muscles, which often happens during and after pregnancy.
While you shouldn’t be alarmed if you’ve experienced diastasis, you do want to get on top of it as soon as possible.* If ignored diastasis can lead to chronic low back pain, lumbar instability, digestive issues and hernias.
(*Note: please get medical clearance before beginning any new workout routine, especially post-pregnancy or surgery.)
So, how do you fix it? Crunches exacerbate diastasis and can further weaken an already weak core. To draw the outer abs back towards midline you need to use flexion-free core exercises, such as those that I’ll show you below.
There’s no point in building the house on a rocky foundation.
The real benefit to starting with crunch-free ab exercises is this: you can do hundreds of sit-ups every day, but without a strong foundation you won’t be getting any benefit.
Now let’s train!
10 Minute Crunch Free Ab Workout
Here Are The Moves
Seated Abdominal Breathing: Sit comfortably with your hands on the belly and your spine nice and straight. Inhale and let the belly expand towards your hands, exhale and engage your abdominals to pull the belly back in towards the spine. Repeat 10 – 12 repetitions.
All-Fours Abdominals: Start on hands and knees, with the wrists under the shoulders and knees under the hips. Keep the spine straight and still. Inhale to let the belly hang down, and exhale to engage your abdominals and pull the belly up towards your spine. Repeat 6-8 repetitions.
Kneeling Hovers: From the all-fours position, keep your abdominals engaged and hover the knees one inch away from the floor. Lower them down. Repeat for 6-10 repetitions.
Plank Step Backs: From the all-fours position, step one foot at a time back to plank position, without releasing your abdominal engagement. Repeat a total of 8-10 repetitions.
Single Leg Lifts: Start lying on your back, and gently press the low spine into the mat. Engage the abdominals before lifting one knee at a time to 90º (“tabletop position”). Return the feet to the mat, keeping the belly flat and the spine neutral. If the belly pops out (i.e. you lose core engagement) only lower the toes halfway.Repeat 8-10 repetitions.
Marching: Start with both knees in tabletop position. Tap one toe at a time towards the mat, before pulling it back up. Keep the belly flat and the spine neutral. Repeat 8-10 repetitions.
Frog Presses: Start lying on your back, with the knees lifted and the heels together, knees slightly open. Keep the low back against the floor and extend the legs away on a high 45º angle. Pull them back in. If the belly pops out (i.e. you lose core engagement) take the legs higher to the sky. Repeat 10-12 repetitions.
Now I’d Love To Hear From You
What kind of ab exercises are part of your workout routine? How did the moves from today’s video feel? Let me know by leaving a comment below.