Class #1795

Strengthen a Weak Lower Back

30 min - Class


Monica Wilson teaches a basic Mat workout for those who wish to strengthen their weak or stiff lower backs for healthier movement patterns. Go step by step through modifications of beginner Mat exercises and accompanying stretches. Feel the tension release from your back after taking this class!

Please note that this class is not intended for those with acute back pain or herniated and bulging discs. As always, please make sure you obtain a Physician's clearance for movement after experiencing any injury or chronic back pain.
What You'll Need: Mat, Theraband

About This Video


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Today, I'm going to lead Rebecca in a basic real basic mat exercise mat workout if you would have a bad back. And when I say a bad back, I'm not talking about someone who needs surgery, um, very soon or that's in an acute stage, but somebody who, um, is a little bit more than a stiff back. Want to be a little careful with them and, but definitely moving onto the strengthening of a back stage, not in the acute pain. We're not talking about a herniated disc or bulging disc that's causing him a lot of pain right now, but someone that's trying to get stronger but considers themselves with a a a week specifically lower back. So let's get started. Sound good? All right. So I want you to be really aware of your alignment always in pilates.

So there's a straight line from one hip to the other hip, nice and straight across, and then a straight line from one shoulder to the other shoulder. So those go straight across and the shoulders are right over those hipbones. So they've formed this beautiful box. Our plots frame when these hipbones are one higher than the other, it's like, um, the wheels of a car pulling on the access. And that access is your spine. So if your hips are off, then your lower back really takes the grunt of it and can really get, get really sore and stiff. And same thing with your upper back, the shoulders.

If you're holding something on your shoulder for too long or you have just, your posture is one shoulder higher than the other, then that's really going to affect your upper back right there. So really think of them like tires on a car and affecting the access. So we want to keep it nice and long and straight. Usually it's okay to be able to be on your back because we're nice and supported. The main things, my main goals today with you is to just really help you feel like you're stabilizing your back and you're supporting it. So there's, they're kind of two different things and you're going to be supporting it with a, your deepest abdominal muscles, you're trans versus, so you want to feel those like a big suction cup pooling in your obliques and pulling in your more superficial, your nice six pack, um, pulling those muscles in to support your spine. And we're going to be working a lot about do we have it in the right alignment as well. Okay. So with that in mind, these two hipbones are really nice and I want you to imagine your belly button.

It's like the ma a button on a mattress. So there's a little string coming up from your spine going up to your belly button and pulling down on your belly button. Okay? Just like in a mattress would a string would come up, pull on that button and make a little tuft. So instead you, and you did that beautifully. So instead of having like five inches between, since you're so tiny, um, between your belly button and your back, I would want three inches. And that's the feeling that I want. Okay? All right. And I would want gravity to help you feel your back nice and flat on the Mat.

So for today, I don't want to see you ever have a tunnel under your lower back or a little mouse could crawl under. So to get kind of good awareness of that, I want you to imagine your pelvis like a bowl of soup. And I want you to dump that bowl of soup into your chest. Great. Try to draw on your belly button more. Wonderful and really exaggerate that where your tailbone is really tilted towards you. Great. This is called tilted pelvis or some people say talking. But I want you to think more about your abdominals rather than gripping and tucking. And then if you go where it's comfortable for you, because if you had a really sore back or a stiff back, it's not gonna feel that great to go the other way.

So take it where you're, feel like you're stretching but not hurting yourself and just understand where is my pelvis so that okay, this is means I'm arching my back up off the mat and that's not where I want to be today. And Go ahead and draw your navel back to your spine. Great. And you can almost feel it pull, not just in, but a little bit up pulling your pelvis towards you. And so you're very aware of how nice and supported your back is, not just by your stomach muscles in the front, but then also by the mat in the back. So that make sense? Good. And then, um, if you're feeling any tension here, just release a little bit, but just keep it all in your stomach. Great. So we're going to start off with a hundred. We want to be able to do a nice safe hundred.

So bring your knees together and your feet together. And I want your shoulders nice and long away from your ears. Beautiful. And I want you to lift your hands up to the level of your hip bones and those nice long arms. What I love is you have a straight line all the way through your to your wrist. You're going to use little strong muscles to pump five inches up and down above that, um, those hipbones and I want you to inhale and exhale.

So that's an inhale, two, three, four, five, exhale, two, three, four, five. Inhaling, I'm going to let go. And as you exhale, really pull the navel to your spine. That's great. Inhaling, good. Really getting all the oxygen to your muscles and exhaling all that stale air. That's wonderful. Go ahead and rest your arms now. Good. Um, and I'm gonna have you bend your right knee into your chest. Good. And we're gonna advance the hundred a bit, but before we do that again and do a quick range of motion test so you can bend your knee in very easily. It doesn't bother you. How about if you straighten your leg to the ceiling, does that, would that bother your back or anything? So it's also nice to just test this.

Um, if I do a little circle within your frame, does that bother you at all? It's good to test out things cause when we have a back that's sore, stiff, we want to brace it to protect it. And sometimes we don't know where these exercises are going to go. And so I like to just get you comfortable with this is as big and crazy of an emotion that we're going to do. And it felt okay. So when we're doing, you don't feel like you have to brace and protect yourself. And we're going to bend this knee in. Good.

And know that that doesn't hurt your hip or it is a little resistant, but it's okay. Good. And now go ahead and straighten. Good. And I can also see where your flexibility is, right? And then we're going to do a little circle. Good and reverse. And that hip feels okay and everything feels good. Great. All right, so with the hundred, we're going to try to do it with our knees bent into your chest, but we'll do it one leg at a time, starting with your navel, pulling in.

Wonderful. And bring the right knee into your chest. That's excellent. And then we're gonna do the same thing with the left of pulling in. Wonderful. And if you are on your own, you can hold your own leg and then bring the other one in. But now I want you to form a little table top right here and your legs just over here. It's just a really easy position for the back to stay flat. Okay? And now let's get those arms pumping again and exhaling, pulling your navel and wonderful big breath.

Big exhale, scoop, scoop, scoop. Good, good, good. Big Breath. Big exhale. Keeping your legs here and doing everything the same. On your next exhale. Wanna see you lift your head up. And if your neck doesn't bother you, you might be able to do the remaining ones like that. Good. One more. And really, really warming up that belly.

Hug your knees into your chest and roll your neck and head down. Good. Good job. How'd that feel? Good. All right. To sit up, you can either roll over onto your side and sit up or you could use your legs to help you sit up. And then we're gonna do the roll back. So in the rollback or the what? One day it'll be the roll up. You want to have your spine going, one vertebrae at a time because that's another way where we're going to help our back. No good if it's, if it's a little tighter on one side, pulling your vertebra that way or one weaker side. We want a nice house.

Two solid sides. Right. Okay. But today it's going to be very small. Okay. So we're going to put your hands under your knees and we're going to make your back into the letter c still having your shoulders directly over those hipbones. Exactly. And your elbows are out to the side. That's great. Wonderful. Beautiful.

So you're working today on really rounding your lower back and really getting a good curve in there because cause if it's only stuck in our natural curve, go ahead and arch your lower back. It's only stuck in an arch. Then our spine gets really stiff and it's doesn't feel very young. So we're going to pull back and try to work on rounding that part. Alright. So your legs are going to stay here and you're going to take a breath and exhale, pull your navel into your back and pull back until your arms are straight, but you do not move your hands. Great. Take a breath and then come forward. Exhale.

[inaudible] good. So we're going to keep that nice round back so we're not going very far and all you're doing is really pulling in those muscles into your back to support it. Okay. And to give it a nice stretch. Good. So taking a breath and then exhale, pulling those muscles in, keeping your hands under your knees. And the goal would be to get your waistband on the mat and then take a breath and exhale to come forward. Good. And so we're still, even though it's a small motion, you're going to roll down from your tailbone, then add a vertebra, then another vertebra until you get to that waistband, stay there, taking a breath, and then exhale to come home.

Lift the waistband, but not the next one. And then you go one by one. That's even better. Good. Let's do two more. Take a breath and exhale, willing the tailbone, the next bone, the next, and they're all one in the line. Take a breath and exhale scooping in. And if you are at home and this was still too hard and you need your legs were flying up, you could slip them under a caption. Do it that way and pulling back. Good. Rolling the tailbone, take a breath and exhale. Roll up the waistband, but try to keep the rest there. That's nice. You really working on that stretch.

Good. Now I'm going to have you roll all the way down in. Join pulling in like that. So taking a breath and then exhale, rolling all the way down and you don't have to come up. So you're just going to roll all the way down through your neck and head her. Perfect. Great job. It does feel good, doesn't it? Nice. Okay, so next we're going to do single leg circles and I want you to draw your navel in like that mattress button and hug your knee into UB. Sorry, just your right knee into your chest. Good.

And straighten your right leg up to the ceiling. And put your hands behind your thigh and stretch. Enjoy a good stretch. Ideally your box, your frame stays square on the mat, so your shoulders, even on the mat, on the stretch. Good. And I want you to try to avoid the back of the knee so you can either hold behind the five, you're really flexible, you can hold behind your cap, but usually if we have a bad back, our hamstrings are super tight. So that's why I have, um, actually this little strap here.

Straps, not the word I'm looking for. Fan. Thank you. Um, and we're gonna use it to help. Okay. You can use a towel, you can use anything you want, even a belt, whatever. But I want these two hipbones to be across and yes, you know, you're lengthening right now, you're right, one away from you, but usually people have to turn out their leg a little bit to be able to drop that hit because as your knee rolls parallel and definitely in that hip lifts up and feel that. So we're gonna strengthen the outer thigh while we do this. Um, by turning up the leg a little bit so it's going to point more towards your right shoulder than it is towards your chest bone. All right. And I want you to use this band for the first little bit. We're going to do a set with the band and I want you to go ahead with really focused on keeping that knee turned out and pull that leg up to your nose as much as you can. Wonderful. You could use both hands, whatever.

Good. So without moving those hipbones [inaudible] you pull it up because we're trying to get this really big hamstring back of the thigh stretch. Now with the legs slightly turned out the hips staying squared, bring that leg up as high as you can to your left shoulder. Great. Yep. You should feel a really different diagonal stretch in the back of your leg.

And then allow it to circle a little away from you. Maybe like five inches lower than your pelvis and then back up. Okay, so we'll do four more up to your nose. Up to that shoulder. Cross around up. Good. Keep this hip, reaching that set. Keep the leg turned out. Hm. And one more. Up and around. Good. And we'll go the other way. So you're going to reach down, cross the body up to that shoulder.

Romana always used to say the most important part was getting to that shoulder, getting that diagonal stretch. It really leans out the thighs, but it also really gets that back to feel grounded and rooted into the Mat. All right, so that's definitely five. Let's try the other legs. We're going to bend the knee and without the band, we're going to start off bending the left knee into your chest. You beautiful work with your stomach. Hug It in, extend the leg to the ceiling and put your hands right there. Good and nice. Even really good.

This hips just lifting up towards the ceiling. So I want you to kind of feel a little, there you go. A little more deep into the mat. Yeah. All right, so we were saying that if you will, your knee in, then it's going to lift up that hip, even if you work parallel today. So I want you to stay like that. Good. Grabbing your towel or your band or whatever. Good.

And you're going to pull it up, start it right down the middle of your body. So when it's advanced and this leg is straight on the mat, you would want this leg down the middle of your body, like a split and this leg coming up to the center. So that's a starting point. And then it crosses up to the shoulder. Great. Are you getting that big stretch? All right. And then it's going to go down around in a good and nose, shoulder around and up. Try to keep this one dropped a little more [inaudible] and one more after this.

Up to your nose. Cross your shoulder. Great and reverse. You're doing a wonderful job keeping it turned out. So reach with it, staying turned out. Don't go to parallels that goes down. Now Cross up to that shoulder much better and crossing up and one more and crossing them. Great. Okay. And I'll take that band, hug the knee into your chest and now we're going to do it without the band. See if we can kind of get that idea. So drawing your navel in HUD, the right knee into your chest and extend the legs. So now the muscles really have to work to lift that leg up to your nose, cross to your shoulder, down around and up, up to your nose.

Cross around enough eyes on that knee the whole time. Make sure it's not rolling in to lead the exercise and we'll reverse. I love the rhythm. Really important to have dynamics cross around. Yes, reaching. Reach that whole hip. Yes. One more. And Hug in that knee. Good. And we're going to switch. So the whole time the belly is pulling into the bat.

Bring in the left knee. It's really supported by the mat. Left flag and by your stomach. Good. Nice. Long arms and pulled to your nose, across your shoulder, around up good. And the hip. Stay nice and square and quiet. They don't rock around. No Salsa. Cha-Cha, last one.

And now reverse. Go down. And that's when your knee likes to start turning it. So keep yes and really pull it up to me with a little turnout. There you go. Using your belly and one more. Good work. And hug that knee into your chest. Nice. And now put your foot down. Good. So that was single leg circles.

Now we're going to do single leg stretch. So I want you to use your abdominals just like you've been doing your powerhouse and bring the right knee into your chest. That's great. What I loved about that was within your box, a lot of times when you try to bring in your right leg, the left side of the back will actually try to help and push up off the mat. But you kept your stomach really pulling it flat and didn't rock from one side of the other side and put this foot down. So let's do the same with the left. We're gonna draw in. Wonderful, good, and put that foot down.

And now I want you to draw in the right and now we're going to work on the hands. We're going to put the right hand all the way down the ankle. Good. And the left hand on the knee, that's great. And lift the elbows up so that you get a little tone in those arms. But that's not as important as we're keeping our box, right. So if your arms are equally strong and you're pulling against each other, your ankle will stay in line with your knee and in line with your shoulder here.

But if you switch and you try to pool it, pulls it out of alignment and then that hurts the hip, but it can also hurt your back. So let's make sure when the leg comes in that the arm that is going to crossover it goes to the knee and the arm that's on the outside always goes to the ankle. So we'll put the right foot down and using your stomach first, drawing the left knee and the arm that's crossing over is now the right hand. And now the left hand is the outside hand and it goes to that ankle as you pull. Good and put the foot down and the stomach's more important.

Pools in and you've got your, let's see where your hands go. Good job. Right hand on your ankle, left on your knee and foot down and using your belly and pulling in. Good job, Rebecca. There you go. Nice. And putting that foot down and use your abdominals. Good. All right. So now we've got all that and want you to pull your belly in and this leg is gonna stay as if it was right there. Just straight.

So it's not going to go down at all. Okay. That really causes your back to arch when you're not ready for it. So we want it not directly up to the ceiling cause a lot of times, um, if that is what feels good, that's fine. But if your hamstrings are tight, they need just a little lower. Okay. So dropping it just a little lower. So using your belly, now we'll switch to this position. Switching left knee in. Yes. Good.

Pulling in to switch. So I want you to think about massaging your back into the mat wins as you switched legs. Nice. Yeah. And pulling in and really enjoying that. Good. And switch. Good. And switch. Switch. Nice.

And switch and left and right. Stay here and for the next two sets of lift your head up using your abdominals and switch. Good. And switch and switch. And one more set. Right and left and hug both knees in and hands are on the ankles and rest down your neck and your head. Good. So double leg stretch is called double leg stretch because you should be pushing down just lightly down into your lower back. And then stretching, kind of pulling towards you like that and that feels really delicious.

How's that? Does that feel okay? So you don't want to do the opposite, which is to pull down on your tailbone and your are your lower back, r-chop off the mat. So you want to make sure you're in this position really all pulled into that waistband. Yeah. Good. So same thing here. The legs are gonna Straighten, not directly up to this 90 degree angle, but just a little shy of it. So go ahead and reach your legs. Good. And now use that belly to pull back into that waistband and grab those ankles. Excellent. Inhale to go out. Exhale, polling it. Wonderful. One more.

Inhale and exhale. Good. Now what are your arms really supposed to do? They're supposed to reach straight up to the ceiling for me. And we're going to keep your legs here. So just do arms good. And then exhale, bring them back down to your [inaudible] and they go up and exhale to come down.

Inhale to go up. And then exhale. Now if you can, well, I'd rather even more a circle. So yous go straight up with the inhale and it's like you're in a body of water in a pool and you exhale, you push yourself through that water and inhale so that you can connect to your powerhouse in your spine. And you use those arms with nice strength to always keep in mind. He was a very strong German man and he always uses arms with strength.

So putting some imagery in there. Great. Let's see if we combine can combine them. So you're gonna reach your legs here and your arms here. Little higher for me. Good. And exhale. Circle the arms to those ankles. Again, keeping pulling into your waistband. Inhale. And then exhale, pulling into the mat in with the here and exhale. So you're really challenging your stomach to keep your back flat here.

And exhale. Now see if you can help with your arms and always your powerhouse and lift your head up to look at your belly button. And let's do three with your head up and inhale and exhale. Start the extension from your stomach so there's no weeble wobble with those hips. That's it. And exhale, and one more. Inhaling and exhale and roll down your neck and head.

Great. All right, our last exercise is spine stretch forward. And again, you can either roll to the side or just sit up with your using your legs. All right. And I want you to separate your feet. They want to be two inches wider than your shoulders. Okay, so everybody's different. All right. And we're gonna if this is easy for you, great. If you can flex your feet and sit up tall, come back a little bit with the ribs and a little bit through the upper back.

Excellent. So that's a perfectly straight line. But if you needed to, which you did kind of, um, soften the knees a little bit. Perfect. You could even exaggerate it more. Okay. And I want you to start off with your hands just here and you're going to do like an itsy bitsy crawling forward. Okay, good. Good. So I love that you left your hipbones there. Most people wouldn't do that.

And I want you to take a big breath and now exhale, roll back your waistband than the next. And we're trying to stack them up one vertebra at a time. Great. I want you to pull your navel into your back, like the big suction cup. But now I also wanted to man that you squeeze your bottom and use your waist to kind of lift up to the ceiling. Keep that lift as your head goes down. And you peel off an imaginary wall, one vertebrae at a time.

So the belly is really trying to not just pull in but pull in and up as you stretch and then roll back. Starting from here, from the lower back and all the way up. Take a breath and you're going to exhale. Draw the belly in and up and curl the upper back first. And again, remember to say up off that c good and stretching. Now you're going to try to rule your waistband back first. Good. And then stack up that spine.

And now let's do one with the arms up at shoulder height. Great. Taking a breath and now exhale, head down and have energy going out your fingertips as if you were a magnet and you have got energy going out. Your fingertips, energy going out your heels and roll back up through your waistband first. And give me one more like that. Taking a breath and exhale. Navel pools in and up. One Vertebra at a time. That's great. Reaching Energy and rolling back up.

Starting with the Suction Cup muscle. There Ya go. Good. And now for the last one, I'm going to have you bend your knees quite a bit and grab onto your arches. Good. And your arms can be on the inside. Good. Because if we have a bad week or stiffer back, we want to really work on that curve. So on this last one, you're going to pull your stomach against your hands and really enjoy rounding them. As you push your feet away, you're going to actually push your feet forward. Oh yeah. So taking a breath. Good question. And exhale this part.

We'll go backwards against your hands pushing. Good. Good, good. And then bend your knees and come up as you inhale. And we'll do just one more time taking a breath and exhale, drawing your belly in and just really enjoying getting this great stretch here against your arches. Leave your legs there and roll up your spine nice and straight, and you are all finished. Nice job. How do you feel? Good. That's nice. That's great.


Love your teaching Monica. Can we please have more apparatus class from you???
Excelente, como siempre
Really great since I do have extremely tight hamstrings due to a weak lower back. More please!
Monica Wilson
Thank you so much everyone! I will keep another one in mind
1 person likes this.
Wonderful for me with tight hamstrings and my. 55+ students!
Love this video. Monica your technique, key phrases and coaching are tremendous! Thank you from one teacher to another!!
Super class Monica- I loved the imagery of the wheels of the car- it really helped me, thank you so much.
Great for a tight lower back!
So many great cues and imagery for beginners and unconditioned clients!
Monica Wilson
Thank you everyone! If you would like to see anything specifically in future classes I am all ears:)
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