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Pilates exercise to strengthen your back and improve posture

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This blog is focusing on a popular mat based exercise called the breast stroke preps. There are three exercises within this series, each one just gets a little bit harder. They are designed to compensate for the forwardness of life that we have in today’s society. They strengthen the mid upper back muscles.

Breast Stroke Prep 1:

Lie on your front with your arms in a W shape, shoulders drawn away from the ears. It is good to imagine and feel like the belly button is lifting up towards the back of your spine, and your wing muscles are lifting up. Your gaze is constantly staying facing down towards the mat.

Inhale. As you exhale lift your head and shoulders off the floor. You can press gently into your hands. It’s purely your mid upper back muscles that are lifting your head and shoulders off the floor, there should be nothing going on in the low back, because your abs should be switched on. Inhale again, as you exhale lower back down.

Breast Stroke Prep 2:

Lie on your front with your arms by your side, shoulders are just allowing to round forwards. Inhale, draw the shoulder blades together, let the palms come into the hands. Belly buttons are already in and pelvic floors are lifted. As you exhale, come up into extension lifting your head and shoulders off the floor, keep your core activated. Inhale again, then exhale, lower gently but with control, back down to the mat.

Breast Stroke Prep 3:

For this, it is really important that you engage the abdominals. Lifting the belly button up, curling those pelvic floors up, and engaging the glutes. A good analogy is feeling like your tail bone is reaching towards your heels. Palms are on top of each other and then they stay glued to your forehead.

Inhale to prepare, shoulders away from the ears. As you exhale, make sure your core’s engaged, lift your head and shoulders off the floor. Keeping the core engaged, the glutes on, inhale and exhale to lower back down.

Shell Stretch:

Once we’ve done prone exercises, it’s really important to come back into a shell stretch, just to release any kind of pressure in the low back that may, or may not have happened whilst you’re in this position.

To do that, you need to engage the abdominals, press into our hands and push ourselves back. Imagine there’s a slight, smallish beach ball in between my thighs and my chest. Lift up your pelvic floor, and pull in the abdominals. Draw your shoulders away from the ears, and allow the low back just to open up in this position. Hold for a few seconds, inhale and as you exhale, round yourself up, mobilising through the spine, into an upright position.

These exercises are great for those who work at a desk, have poor posture or need to strengthen the upper back muscles.

This was great, how do I find more exercises?

We have many different online classes for a variety of different injuries and activity levels. Take a look at our classes and book online here.

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