Strength and flexibility take front and centre stage as equal partners in the vital endeavour towards correcting the dreaded back slump. Not only is a spinal slump unsightly, it is also one of many causes responsible for back pain owing to muscle imbalances. Your back and abdominal muscles tend to get neglected unless you target them intentionally through exercises such as back extensions or Pilates.
Just like all other muscles of the body, your back and abs require specific exercises (such as breastroke) to maintain power and tone that are essential in maintaining a neutral spine position. Breastroke is a fun and highly effective way of exercising your back muscles .With time, patience and consistency, this practice should gradually lead to a more erect, elongated and proper posture.
- Begin lying face down (prone) with your nose hovering just above the mat as your chin is tilted downwards to ensure that your neck is lengthened.
- Your legs must be apart (abducted) and parallel to the floor.
- Bend your arms with your elbows in at your sides, palms facing downwards.
- Stabilise your scapulae. In other words, your shoulder blades must sink far away from your ears. Keep them balanced and still.
- Make sure your glutes are squeezing, with your pubic and hip bones pushing into the mat and your abdominals tightly connected to protect your lower back.
- Inhale: Prepare.
- Exhale: Reach both your arms straight out in front of you simultaneously.
- Inhale: Circle your arms around towards the side of your body lifting the thoracic back region (mid back), keeping your cervical spine (neck) in a neutral position. Perform 10 repetitions.
- You will strengthen your abdominals as well as your entire back, for example your trapezius, latissimus dorsi and rhomboid muscles.
- In addition to the above, you’ll strengthen your deltoids and glutes.
- The breastroke will aid in mobilising your shoulders.
Points to ponder
- Keep your shoulders stabilised.
- Don’t circle your arms if you feel pain in your back or shoulder girdle.
- Don’t hyperextend your head when extending the upper spine. Rather tilt your chin downwards.
- Increase the difficulty of the exercise by placing a Pilates ball (small/large depending on level of strength) or circle between your ankles.
- To make the exercise easier, don’t circle your arms.
When performing this exercise, keep in mind that you are essentially swimming your way towards a stronger spine as this Pilates exercise opens up the chest increasing its surface area while stretching the muscles along your spine.
There is a myriad of other extremely beneficial Pilates exercises out there just waiting to be discovered! Trifocus Fitness Academy’s Comprehensive Pilates Certification is guaranteed to give you thorough knowledge of Pilates practice. Follow this link to find out more.