5 Easy Pilates Exercises For Chronic Pain
August 2nd, 2018
Core and Lower Body Exercises for Pain
Doing pain exercises for a part of your body that isn’t in pain seems a little bizarre at first. However, your core muscles bear an incredible responsibility when it comes to supporting you spine. Your lower body muscles play a strong role in supporting the lower spine, which troubles many people, as well as your hips. Good core and lower body strength also positively affects your balance and how impact is distributed along the whole musculoskeletal structure. It’s important for your posture, balance, and overall spinal health to have very good core and lower body muscles.
It is also better to build lean muscle than it is to build bulky, shorter muscle. In terms of supporting your body, longer and leaner muscles serve the function of support better. Since many pain issues come from the spine, keeping your lower body and core muscles strong is incredibly important. It can be very daunting. However, these easy pilates exercises, broken down into simple movements for core and lower body muscles can be done almost anywhere in just a few minutes. At home, at the office, these easy pain exercises can help you work toward managing your own natural pain relief.
This easy pilates routine allows you to activate different muscles throughout your core and lower body by extending your leg at different angles. What’s great is these exercises are a little fast-paced, so unlike traditional physical therapy, this can double as your cardio workout; you will break a sweat. It also happens to target areas that are hard to get weight off, such as the hips, the lower abdomen, and side of the abdomen. This may help if you have pain issues, especially in the spine.
These exercises specifically target lower ab muscles, as they are critical to helping support the foundation of the rest of your core muscles. Some physical therapists will tell you to think of yourself like a house, “if the foundation is strong, the house is going to be in better shape.” In the case of your body, your lower abs as well as your hips, buttocks, and other leg muscles are your foundation. The stronger you they are, the less stress your other muscles and spine have to take on.
However, these exercises are not for people with some severe injuries. Other factors, such as age, can cause these workouts to exacerbate previous injuries. They may not be the best choice of exercise for someone who has or is at risk for arthritis in the hips or knees. While this routine does strengthen the muscles of the hips, there are other exercises for that condition which could reduce the impact of repetitive motion. If you have or are at risk for osteoarthritis in your hips or other hip problems, refer to the exercises in our blog, 5 Easy Lower Back Pain Exercises, for some lower impact activities for strengthening those muscles. If you are not at risk, while those exercises are also great, these pilates can provide a totally new, fast, fun way to strengthen those muscles and also get your cardio workout in.
On all of these, you have to move both legs. Below lays out the repetitions for one leg. This is because some people choose to do both legs at the same time, while others choose to do all five moves on one leg, then all 5 moves on the other leg. Either way is fine. Be advised your leg that is not doing the move will get tired from holding you up. Doing all 5 on one leg may elicit a need more breaks or one long break. Take as many breaks as you need. There is no one right way, as long as both legs are worked out.
Pilates Move #1
First, make sure you are balanced so that you can lift one leg straight out in front of you. Use a table or chair or something you can hold onto to assist you in balancing on one leg. This in itself requires activation of the core and glutes.
Once you are ready to begin, hold your leg straight and lift straight in front of you. You should feel your quadriceps and your front lower abs. This is “90 degrees front,” but note, this does not mean lift your leg 90 degrees in front of you. There is no need to lift that high. Only light your leg until you feel the muscles contract. Once you feel you have correctly completed the motion, come back down, but don’t touch the ground. Not touching the ground increases the challenge of the pilates, so this will help you build muscles faster. You are going to repeat quickly 20 times, never touching the ground.
This is almost as if you’re kicking straight out in front of you. As long as you feel your lower abs working and you are keeping your leg straight, you can be sure you are doing the exercises effectively. Straight in front helps target those hard to reach lower abs, as well as gives you a great workout in your quadriceps. As you get stronger, you can up your amount of repetitions to 30, 40, or 50, but you’re probably not going to want to do more than that for a while because you want to be able to complete the whole workout, so don’t tire yourself out on the first move. However, after getting used to the routine, it is completely possible to work yourself up to 75, 100, even 150 reps and still finish. This takes long conditioning, especially for someone suffering from the characteristics of chronic pain. Don’t try to rush growth. Don’t start doing that many until less feels way too easy.
Pilates Move #2
From here on, the move is basically the same throughout the whole workout, but different adjustments need to be made for the different angles. You’ll bring your leg out straight, in the exact same way as before, but at a 45 degree angle. This one is called “45 degrees front.” You should feel this working a different set of your ab muscles. Lower back down and begin the quick reps as in the previous move.
This angle helps target your lower oblique muscles. You’ll also feel it go from working the top of your quads to perhaps a different part of the quad, over to the side. You’ll feel this pilates move also into the abductor and adductor muscles, which will get and even more well rounded workout throughout the rest of our routine. Use the same number as you did for the previous move.
Pilates Move #3
This move, while similar to the others, is different because you may have to make some adjustments in your stance. You may have to angle differently against the wall, chair, or whatever you use to stabilize yourself. Your leg is going to raise straight out. Again, no need to lift your leg to 90 degree, but we call this “90 degrees out.” Just lift the leg until you feel the exercise in your sides and inner and outer leg and hip muscles called the abductors and the adductors. Once you have found a stable positing, once again bring the leg down without touching the ground and do 20 pretty quickly.
This exercise really becomes cardio once you know how to do it all and switch between the moves quite quickly. That also makes this a physical therapy and cardio workout all in a short amount of time once you get all the moves down. The reason this one is so important is because it focuses the most on the hip muscles crucial to support the very bottom of your spine, the Coccyx and the sacral spine. These are the areas that most often cause lower back pain. By keeping it supported, you start in a good place, and you build from a good place. Do the same amount of these as you have for the exercises before this.
Pilates Move #4
To conclude the routine, these next two moves focus heavily on the gluteal muscles, as well as the muscles of the lower latissimus dorsi and the serratus posterior inferior. These are all critical muscles in helping you support you lower and even muddle spine. If your lower spine is well supported, you are likely to have less trouble throughout the whole spine.
The muscles in your bottucks are very important, so if these two exercises seem to be harder on your rear, it’s because they are. Your buttock muscles are strong, key muscles group that has to be quite challenged to grow. It also has the benefit of being the largest muscle group in the body, making it capable of burning a lot of calories for you. Remember, every pound of muscle you put on almost permanently adds to your metabolism, but lean muscle is likely to be maintained more easily once it is put on.
For the fourth pilates move, you’ll need to point your toe and, while still bracing yourself for support, lift your leg 45 degrees behind you. This one is called, “45 degrees back.” You’ll notice tension in your butt, as well as in some of the muscles in your back. While some tension in your back muscles is good and helps them to grow, take as much tension off as possible by focusing on using your gluteal muscles to do the exercise; you don’t want to sent your back into spasm. Do as many repetitions of this pilates move as you did in the ones before.
Pilates Moves #5
You guessed it, this one is “90 degrees back.” This fifth exercise is specially targeted to almost entirely work your gluteal muscles. However, the hamstring also gets a good workout from this move. Working these muscles is not only important because they help support your Coccyx and lower spine; they are also large muscle groups that burn a lot of calories. Losing weight often helps reduce chronic pain. This pilates routine, especially once you have worked up to 30 or so repetitions and can do them with less breaks on each move, is an intense cardio workout and may help you lose some of the unwanted weight that may be exacerbating your pain. However, don’t push yourself do more than you can do. Working the bottocks is not only a crucial step in exercise therapy for the back, it also is a critical muscle for weight loss as well.
In the final move, point your toe as in the previous move, and you lift your leg straight back. You will feel a tightening in your buttocks and hamstring. You want to lift a considerable amount — not too high, or you could hurt your back. When you feel you have it set correctly, start moving it up and down at a rapid speed, remembering, as always, to not let it touch the ground. This is the final stretch so it is gonna feel like the hardest one, but you still have to do just as many.
Once you have completed all repetitions, walk around the room a little for a few minutes slowly. After you feel your heart rate slow down, get a water, and then go sit down. You don’t want to go from doing cardio exercise straight to doing nothing. You may be tired, but just walk slowly around for a few minutes to cool down and bring your pulse down so you can go to resting without a shock to the system. You can actually do any of the moves with a pointed foot or a flexed foot. Whatever you feel more comfortable with, or if you want to change it up!Don’t forget to stretch when you’re done, the low back stretch along with a couple others in this blog, 7 Easy Stretches For Improving Your Posture, may feel really nice after this workout. Whatever stretches you use, be sure to stretch your buttock, quads, hamstring, hips, abs, back, and maybe buttocks again. We hope you enjoy this easy pilates pain workout. For other blogs about other kinds of pain, visit our blog.