A Pilates Instructor Recommends These Exercises For A Healthy and Flexible Spine
We take our spines for granted. We slouch for temporary comfort, we ignore the effects of hunching over our laptops and phones i.e. text neck – never mind that it places a weight of almost 22kg on the spine, ligaments and other muscles.
But our spines are crucial to our health and we shouldn't wait till they become stiff and painful to look after them. Muscle strain, pinched nerves and headaches, or worse, early degeneration. Slipped disc, anybody?
"Think of your spine as the framework of a building," says Jiho Park, senior Pilates instructor at SmartFit Pilates. "When it isn't strong enough to protect it from shock or disasters, the building collapses."
Your spine gives structure and supports the weight of your body. It connects the muscles that enable movement and flexibility, necessary not just for physical activities but for every day movements, like walking, standing and lifting objects. It also protects the spinal cord and related essential nerves.
Below, Jiho recommends a combination of basic spinal exercises for a strong and flexible spine.
Supine Stretch Forward
"This looks simple but it's not easy to do," says Jiho.
This exercise requires you to keep your legs taut and straight, anchoring your lower body as you scoop your abdominals in and lengthen your spine in a large C-shape curve forward. It's a great stretch for the back and improves the ability to articulate the spine and increase thoracic (back) mobility. It also targets the hamstrings.
Prone Press Up
Another seemingly easy exercise, the prone press up doesn't just improve mobility and extension through your spine, it also develops your core, tones your arms and overall body awareness. Stabilisation of the lower back strengthens the upper back muscles, which are key for preventing slumped posture.
This 7-minute gentle routine is great for starting your morning and also terrific for beginners. It includes some basic warm-ups and stretches like Thread the Needle, which opens up the shoulders, neck and back, reduces intervertebral disc pressure and alleviates pain between shoulder blades.
Hailing from Seoul, South Korea, Jiho Park completed the full STOTT Pilates certification in her home city and has since gone onto gain countless other qualifications including TRX, Polestar, STOTT Pilates for Injuries & Special Populations, Zenga Mat, Pre/Post-Natal Pilates and Total Barre. She is also certified by the National Pilates Alliance. She has over ten years experience of teaching under her belt, and specialises in rehabilitation, functional movement and strengthening, and pre and post-natal training.