We all spend too many hours a day in front of a screen — whether it’s a computer, smartphone or tablet.
Forget what it’s doing to your eyes; we’re hearing more of our clients complaining of neck and back pain as a result of spending so much time hunched forward tending to technology. Despite its creation almost 100 years ahead of this widespread health issue, Pilates focuses on posture and core strength, two key pillars that can help reserve the physical effects of your smartphone.
With men and women – as young as in their teens and early career years! – feeling this side effect of tech, there are some easy and effective Pilates exercises that can be done to help improve posture and reduce back and neck pain.
Swan strengthens the lower back and core. Lie on your stomach with your legs hip distance apart or wider. Stack your hands and forearms and glue your forehead to your top hand. Engage your glutes and belly, press your legs and hipbones down as you mindfully and gently lift your upper body off of the mat, rolling through the ribs, and controlling your lower back down to the mat. Repeat three to five times, holding the last one at the top for a 10 count. Remember, we never want to force our lower back so think about floating not forcing!
Swimming strengthens the lower back, core, glutes, upper back and shoulders, and elongates the spine. Line on your stomach with your legs hip distance apart. Reach your legs as long as possible and extend your arms on the floor above your head, shoulder distance apart. Reach your arms long but drop your shoulders as low away from your ears as possible. Engage your belly, glutes, upper back and shoulder blades and as your press your hip bones down, gently lift your legs, arms and torso up off of the mat, keeping your gaze straight down at the floor so there’s no wrinkles in the back of your neck. Either hold the lift in a static position, or gently alternate between lifting and lowering the opposite arm and leg, minimizing the rocking left to right of your hips. Hold still for a 10 count or swim for 20 reps.
Spine Stretch Forward releases your lower back, hamstrings and most importantly, improves posture! Sit with your legs in a V Shape, hip or mat distance apart, or even wider. Flex your feet and if your legs are very tight, take a soft bend of your knees. Sit as tall as possible, thinking about making space between each bone in your rib cage and in your spine. Float your arms in front of you shoulder height, with palms facing one another. Inhale to sit a little taller and gently round forward, keeping your arms parallel to the floor as if you were rounding over an imaginary beach ball, taking a nice big exhale. On the inhale, gently restack your spine, thinking about sitting taller and creating more space between the ribs and vertebrae.
Schedule five-10 minutes into your daily schedule once or twice a day to move through this short circuit of stretches and strength exercises and don’t forget how important it is to get up from your desk and MOVE periodically during the day too!
Make it a goal to not only work these exercises into your day but also turn off your electronics an hour or two before bedtime to give your body a break, and rest easier that evening.
Shelley Kapitulik is a Pilates instructor at Privé-Swiss Fitness, an award-winning, upscale, boutique fitness studio, located at 1587 Boston Post Road, Westbrook, 757 Boston Post Road, Madison and 57 Main Street, Ivoryton (coming soon); phone: 860-391-8735; website: www.priveswissfitness.com.