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10 Gentle Pilates Exercises for Lower Back Pain Relief During Perimenopause

Navigating through perimenopause can feel like you're on a rollercoaster, especially with the physical changes and discomforts that come along for the ride. One common companion during this transition?

Lower back pain.

It can creep up on you as quickly as the hairs on your chin appear overnight! A day of travel means that the back suffers. Cleaning the bath leads to soreness that lasts a week!

But here's a bit of good news: Pilates can be your gentle, supportive friend, offering relief and strength without overdoing it.

Pilates, with its focus on core strength, flexibility, and mindful movements, is perfect for this phase of life. It’s like a soothing balm for those aches that seem to have moved in uninvited. And the best part? You don’t have to be a Pilates pro to start feeling the benefits. Here, I’ll walk through 10 beginner-friendly Pilates exercises specially picked for their lower back pain-relieving powers. They’re simple, gentle, and designed to ease those pesky pains, making your perimenopausal journey a bit smoother. You'll gently move your way to a stronger, more comfortable back.

1. Pelvic Tilt

The pelvic tilt is a fundamental Pilates exercise that helps to mobilize the lower spine and strengthen the abdominal muscles, providing relief to the lower back.

  • Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.

  • Inhale to prepare, then exhale as you gently tilt your pelvis towards your ribs, flattening your lower back against the floor.

  • Inhale to return to the starting position. Repeat 10 times.

2. Spine Stretch

The spine stretch can help relieve tension in the back muscles and improve the flexibility of the spine.

  • Sit tall with your legs extended in front of you, slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.

  • Extend your arms in front of you at shoulder height.

  • Exhale as you reach forward from your hips, curving your spine into a "C" shape.

  • Hold for a breath, then slowly return to the starting position. Repeat 5 times.

3. Cat-Cow Stretch

This exercise improves spine flexibility and strengthens the abdominal muscles, helping to relieve lower back pain. Focus on mobilising throughout the whole of the spine - the lower back in your Cat and the upper back in your Cow. Work with your breath length. 

  • Start on your hands and knees, with your wrists directly under your shoulders and your knees under your hips.

  • Inhale as you arch your back down, lifting your head and tailbone towards the ceiling (Cow).

  • Exhale as you round your spine up towards the ceiling, tucking your chin to your chest (Cat).

  • Repeat 10 times, moving smoothly between the two positions.

4. The Swan

The Swan exercise strengthens the back muscles and stretches the front of the body, promoting good posture and reducing lower back pain.

  • Lie on your stomach with your hands placed under your shoulders. Be mindful of your shoulder placement! 

  • Gently lift your chest off the floor, extending your spine, keeping your hip bones on the mat.

  • Hold for a breath, then slowly lower back down. Repeat 5 times.

5. Heel Slides

This exercise helps engage the core muscles gently, promoting lower back stability without strain. Focus on keeping the pelvis super still as you perform the movement. 

  • Lie on your back with your knees bent, hip width apart and feet flat on the floor.

  • Slowly slide one heel away from your body, straightening the leg, then slide it back in. 

  • Keep your pelvis stable and your lower back in a neutral position. Alternate legs, doing 10 slides on each side.

6. Knee Folds

Knee folds are perfect for strengthening the lower abdominal muscles, supporting the lower back. Again, with this one, you want to ensure that the pelvis is remaining stable. 

  • Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor, hip-width apart.

  • Slowly lift one foot off the floor, bringing the knee towards your chest just so your hip is at a 90-degree angle.

  •  Lower it gently back to the starting position and repeat with the other leg. 

  • Perform 10 folds on each side, keeping your abdominal muscles engaged and your spine neutral.

7. Modified Single Leg Circles

A more gentle approach to engaging the core and stabilising the lower back.

  • Lie on your back with one leg extended upwards and the other flat on the ground, knee bent to keep your spine neutral. (you can always keep your knee bent if lengthening it doesn’t feel great)

  • Circle your raised leg gently in the air, keeping the movement small and controlled. Repeat 5 circles in each direction, then switch legs. 

  • Think about stillness in your pelvis and supporting leg. 

8. Bridge to Spine Curl 

The bridge exercise strengthens the glutes and hamstrings, supporting the lower back.

  • Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor, hip-width apart.

  • Press your feet into the floor as you lift your hips towards the ceiling, creating a straight line from your shoulders to your knees.

  • Hold for a breath, then slowly roll down one vertebra at a time. Repeat 8 times.

9. Child's Pose

While not a traditional Pilates exercise, the child's pose is an excellent way to stretch and relax the lower back. You can also add a side stretch as well by walking the hands to one side and feeling the stretch in the lengthened side. 

  • Kneel on the floor with your toes together and knees hip-width apart.

  • Sit back on your heels and stretch your arms forward, lowering your forehead to the floor.

  • Hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute, breathing deeply.

10. Standing Back Extension

  • Starting Position: Stand with your feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent. Place your hands on your lower back, fingers pointing downwards and elbows slightly drawn back.

  • Inhale to prepare, keeping your core engaged.

  • Exhale as you gently extend your spine backwards, pushing your hips slightly forward and using your hands as support on your lower back. Ensure the movement is controlled and focused on the lower back — there should be no discomfort or pain.

  • Hold the extension for a moment, then inhale as you return to the starting position, ensuring a smooth and controlled movement.

  • Repeat the exercise 5-8 times, focusing on the quality of the movement rather than quantity. It's essential to keep the movement range moderate to avoid strain.

By incorporating these exercises into your routine, you can build strength, enhance flexibility, and alleviate lower back pain in a way that’s gentle and effective during perimenopause. Remember, it's all about taking it at your own pace and listening to your body. These movements are not only about easing discomfort but also about carving out a moment of tranquility and self-care in your day. Here’s to a stronger back and a smoother perimenopause journey!

If you are local to Kingston, Surrey, I teach one to one Pilates online and face to face. I would love to introduce you to Pilates or help you increase your strength and decrease your back pain. Pop me a message to explore your options!

Please note: this is a general list of back pain relieving Pilates exercises which although suitable for most, may not be suitable for everyone, for example, if you have been diagnosed with osteoporosis.   Seek advice from a professional if you have any conditions or injuries which may affect their suitability.


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