Class #5126

Mat for Stiff Backs

35 min - Class


Transform your stiff back into a mobile and resilient back with this Mat workout by Ilaria Cavagna. She starts with precise and segmental movements and moves on to more advanced exercises where you'll articulate the spine in flexion, extension, rotation, as well as with positive and negative torsion. This is a great class to lubricate your joints so that you can safely access a greater range of motion with more freedom.
What You'll Need: Mat

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Today's mat will focus on stiff backs. How many times I wake up in the morning and my back is not as ready to move as other moments of the day, right? Or maybe it's very cold. So it doesn't really matter the level you are at, we'll start from very basic and simple movements to progress to more advanced one, but we'll make sure we'll move the back inflection, extension, translation, side bending, anything we can do with our spine. So let's get started on all four and we'll go from there.

I want you to place the hands right underneath the shoulders and the knees are right underneath the hips. So very easy, very slow. I want you to start moving the pelvis with a very light retroversion and anteversion. Very, very little. Very simple, breathe, through breathing is very, very important.

When we talk about backs, right? We have the diaphragm from right at the base of the rib cage. So very important to breathe through anything we do. Now, we stop in a tabletop position and we move the tail side to side a little bit again, nice and slow. Okay. We have a stiff pelvis as our joint issue.

This is really good to get moving nice. and progressively. Now we stop in the center and we drop the head down. We let it hang and we go just a little bit to one side and then we roll it down again and a little bit to the other. And again, drop it down.

We go the head away from the screen and then down. And we bring it back to the screen and then back to center. Now back to the tabletop, we push the floor away. We drop the rib cage down and we push it up. And again, down shoulder blades and up back, stay strong and long, down with a rib cage.

And up, up, up, up, up, now we relax. We take a little breath and we go with a little bit of round and open. And I want you to think about initiating the movement from the sternum, from the bottom of the sternum. So think about having like a hook there, lifting and pulling your sternum up and then opening it out and again, pull it up and it gets bigger and bigger, nice and slow nice and easy. Lift to the bottom of the sternum up towards the ceiling.

And then reach, reach, reach. Now think about the extremities, the head and the (indistinct) round and bring them down. And then from the extremities again, you open, open, open, you see, and you feel how the movement is different. According to where we initiate it from. Right now, let's think about the top of the head and the signals and the tailbone.

One more opening. And now round again, you push the floor away. You create space in between the spinals processes. You drop the head down and you let it say, no, you relax it completely. And then you tuck your toes under and you come up in a little bit of a downward dog, elephant position.

Feel free to keep your knees bent. No stress at the hamstrings, just lengthen, lengthen, lengthen, push your shoulders to the knees and then release. And again, lengthen your spine. Reach very active. Try to create space between the vertebrae.

And again, you push back. You lengthen. Now, if you can, you stretch your legs long, you lift up your toes to create maximum tension in the back of the body. And then you round again, you scoot the stomach up and you walk forward closer to your hands. You soften the knee.

The head is hanging down. The shoulders are relaxed. Come up, hug the back of your knees and without extending your legs, you scoop and pull to create even more space and nice little stretch, relax everything down, shake off the arms. And now finally you breathe out and you slowly control, control, control. You come up, you open the shoulders and we come up to standing.

Now from here, let's do the same movement sideways. So I want you to drop the head, turn to your right, and then you bend your knees and you relax down, shake everything off and scoop and lift and open. And again, head down, turn to the other side, bend your knees. Everything goes down towards the floor, relaxed, soft knees, scoop into your stomach, roll all the way up and release. Now let's lift the toes up to have a better alignment and a better position.

We lace the fingers and we reach up towards the ceiling, lengthen, lengthen, lengthen, lengthen. Now little side bending to the right and up and a little side bending to the left and up, now side bend to the right, push the hips to the left, bring the hips, look back and up to the ceiling. And again, out push, push, push, bring it back and lift and now open and stay tall. Now we are ready to go down to the mat for the hundred. So you can cross, you can squat down.

And in this exercise, we stabilize the spine. There is no articulation, right? So from here, stretch your legs out at working level, lengthen. And there you pump, you go with deep breaths, inhaling big, but most importantly, exhaling and really emptying the lungs and pushing all the air out. And again in, exhale, exhale, exhale, exhale, and again in with the air and exhale out, reach with your fingertips forward.

The toes are reaching forward as well. The top of the head is up to the ceiling. Let's try to keep an easy neck, not too much tension there. And last one in a deep, deep, deep, deep, deep, and now exhale, exhale, exhale, exhale, exhale, bend all the way. And now rock side to side just a little bit.

And then you stop in the center and you open the knees as you circle them around. This is a very simple and easy exercise, but very beneficial for the SI joint. Now reverse, open and together, breathe. Beautiful. Now feet down onto the floor. I like also to open the arms so they're here, because it really creates a little more length in the front of the chest.

If you can lift the toes up and now very simple, very small. You want to lift only the tailbone and down. You see how small the movement is, right? I just want you to think about that little rocking of the pelvis to free up the tailbone only. Now let's go a little higher.

The sacrum comes up and down. This is a little osteoarticular warm up, right? To prepare us to the big and important movement of Pilates and make sure we can get the juice out of them. Now let's go a little higher. We'll lift up a little with a lumber spine and down and again, the reach, the tailbone is always leading the movement.

Lift, lift, lift. I like to exhale rolling down because that gives me more power of articulation. Try if you want. And then you go and you'll go a little higher to the bottom rib and a couple more times. And now we go at the highest without arching the back, reaching forward with the knees.

I want you to reach back with the arms as if we were on the reformer. You're doing the semi circle, push back with the arms and now long exhale as you melt your sternum down the end of the rib cage, the lumbar spine, the sacrum and then the tailbone. Relax the arms again, curl and lift up. Reach, now push back with the arms again and lengthen, lengthen, lengthen, lengthen, articulate down, lengthening away, melt each vertebra down to the floor and relax. One more time, curl and lift.

This is the last one. Push back, and now get closer to your feet. Lengthen the spine so much. And you're really getting some space down onto the floor. You're lengthening the spine.

You're creating space between the vertebra and down release, very nice. Now let's come up. I already feel better. We sit up, we lift the toes for stability. And now here, we still going to the SI joint.

I want you to roll back a little bit. The arms are lifting you up and now we walk four steps forward and four steps back. You see how hard it is to go back, right? And again, back opening the lumbar spine a little bit, come up and let's take a walk to the front and walk to the back a little better. And again, down, down, down and lift.

This is the last walk we take front and back. Now we close the feet. You feel free to flex your feet and reach forward. Now from here we go behind the tailbone and we hold, hold, hold. Let's try to get the sacrum onto the floor.

And we hold, hold, hold. Now the vertebra behind the navel, hold it, rib cage. And now we come back up, navel, hold, sacrum, hold behind the tail bone and lift growing tall. Now, here we repeat the same sequencing. We go without skipping any of those stages, but then we continue and we open the arms to the back, arms, head, scope and lift, roll back down, create space in front, of course.

I keep moving along and moving forward. But if there is anything that doesn't feel good for you, you just stay with the previous progression. Now, if you can, you stretch your legs. You go forward, pull back, reach with the legs. Feel free to soften them if you need to.

And then you open and again, scoop, exhale up and navel forward back as you reach forward with your arms, roll back and open and again, exhale and over pull, pull, pull, pull, control down. One more time, scoop up and over. And now you roll all the way back down and we lift the legs up. Before we roll back, I want you to lift your hips up a little and down, hips up a little and down. Here's where we start the movement from, hips up a little and down, now lift and you go, touch back, open, lengthen, lengthen, lengthen down together.

And again, lift and touch and open, roll down. Of course we can also keep the feet higher up. We don't need to touch the floor if we're not ready. Anything has to be executed at whatever level we are. And then we reverse.

We go back behind the head, lengthen the arms, roll down and open again. You go touch and back, lengthen, lengthen, lengthen, lengthen, lengthen. Very good, big flexion for the spine. You go down together. Now here, lengthen the arms, articulate down, keeping the thighs close to the chest.

Roll down, roll down, roll down, roll down, roll down. And now the left leg goes down. The right leg stays up. Open the arms up to the side. Now, very small tick tock with the leg, cross and open one more time, cross and open.

Now let's go a little bit bigger. We let the hip come up a little and open and again, a little cross and open. Now, if you can go farther anywhere it feels good. If it feels good, you go, you go. So this is the first big rotation and spiral at the body.

Once I get to my maximum, I close, I go towards the leg with the shoulder and then slowly exhale, roll your shoulders back onto the ground. Opening, trying to ground the shoulder, open the arm, and then you bring it back up to the ceiling. Open it out to the side and center. Give yourself a nice little stretch, scoop down. And then you switch the leg.

Left leg comes up and we repeat, very little, open, little tick tock. Now a little farther, lifting up the hip a little and back and cross a little and open. Now go to your maximum, exhale, exhale, exhale, exhale. Now go bring up the shoulder, close your hands. Now slide open, roll the shoulders back into the ground.

Your shoulder touches the arm lengthens, and then you bring the leg up, open it out to the side and then back up the center, grab the leg and stretch and release. Now let's go back to the flection. Let's massage the spine a little bit. We're going to grab behind the legs, curl up and we start rocking a little bit, gentle rocking, gentle rocking, back and down, and we come up and hold. And then you go back and fall, come up and hold and you go back and fold, come up and hold.

Now let's grab one leg, scoop, scoop, scoop, roll down, pull it into your chest. We stabilize the spine again. And then you switch and lengthen and switch and right, left. One more slow. And now faster and in, and in, and in, blood flow is always good to warm up and move the spine.

Now from here, go in with both, reach out long and in, pretend you're doing leg springs, reach away, active leg, lengthen and in reach and pull and again, out and in, out and in, lengthen. And in now straight you go pull, pull, switch, pull, pull, and hug and hug. Grab the leg when it comes to you, try not to go and get it. Just allow the leg to work and come all the way to you for the stretch and right, and left. And last one and switch.

Now, hands back, hold up the head, lower down and lift. Your working level. Now what's the goal here? Maintain the back nice and stable onto the floor, right? We don't wanna give in.

We don't want to create arches. We don't want to create injuries at the spine, right? So we can keep it anchored. Look down with the legs a lot and up and again, reach, reach, reach, whatever working level is right and up. Let's do one more lengthen, lengthen, lengthen, lengthen, and scope it up.

And now you come all the way up to sitting and back to articulating. So from here very small at first, we keep the spine straight. You inhale, head down, reach forward with your fingertips, keep your lumbar spine pulling back. And then from here, we roll back up and again, lift and head down. Same level, same range of motion.

Pull the navel back as the fingertips go forward and then roll back up. And now we go a little deeper. If you can, you keep going with the fingertips forward. And the top of the head is trying to go down low, low, low to the floor and then roll it up. And again, lift, head down, reach forward the fingertips, curl, head down, down, down, and up this last time we're gonna grab the legs.

So inhale up, head down. You reach forward first. And then you're going to hold the bottom of the feet or the ankles. And you pull back into your spine to give yourself a nice stretch. Then you let go and you roll all the way back up.

Now, pull back into your stomach, round, scoot and lift up the legs, hold the position. And now really the idea of falling back, like rolling like a ball. So from here, you pull back, you want to massage the spine and back up and again, pull, pull, massage it again, back and up. You can hold the legs low. You can bend them.

That's not the purpose of the exercise today. Really get a nice massage, breathe coming up. Let's do one more pull, pull, pull, very relaxed and roll up. Now we close the legs and we bring the elbows back behind us and we bend the knees. Let's get back to rotation, from here, I want you to tick tock the knees to one side and then the other one more time, tick tock.

Now let's stretch one leg and we go to the right and the left, one more right and left. Now we switch. We go with the other one and we go very small rotation. Don't go too far. We're still preparing the spine.

Now from here, let's go with two straight legs to one side and to the other, make sure you don't sink down with the sternum, lengthen the body, lengthen the top of the head. Let's do one more side of this one. We go to the right, to the left. Now, what are we ready for? Ready for? We're ready for a good corks.

Here we go to the right, lower down. We already stabilize and center. We go again, reverse around and center. Be ready because later we'll do the real core too. So this is just a nice preparation for it.

And I want to see this work when we're gonna do the exercise later and up, now let's come up sitting. I want you to face me. And here we open the legs a little wider than usual, not the usual spine stretchers. So just a little bigger base because we're gonna have a nice massage at the spine. I call it massage because it very is a very gentle movement.

From here, I want you to translate side to side on the frontal plane. So you keep gliding from one side to the other. Now I'm talking, but I want you to prioritize the exhale, really empty the lungs as long as you can, or as often as you can. So we release the tension inside and we can move better. Now let's do the same movement with the hands behind the neck.

So you press the head back and we go from one side to the other. So when I go to my right, I anchor the opposite and same thing on the other side and you go reach and reach, reach, reach back to center. Now here, let's go reach down towards the floor with a deep side bending and up and all the way to the other side, lengthen away and up. Make sure we don't collapse, right? We side bend, but we don't drop.

We lengthen out to side bend, come up. We always do that in Pilates, right? Lift. And we go big, big, big reaching away and lift. Now we do a combo, go translation to the left, side bending, come up and back to center. Other side, translate out, side bend, come up and back to center again, side, down, up and center.

And again, side, down, open between the ribs up and center. Let's do an opposite one, a reverse it's a little more complicated. We do side bending and then we reach out. We go back down to side bending the elbow pulls us up and back to center. One more on the other side, go side bend down, reach long and away and down again.

And lift. Now shake off the arms a little bit. Close your legs a little bit more for the preparation for the saw. So here you lift. Let's turn to the left, side bend to the right now this towards the knee, outside the knee, if possible and up and again you lift twist, exhale, reach down, down, down, down and up.

Now we add some stuff from here. You go turn to the left, side bend to the right, and now you come all the way up and you go over towards the knee that is in front of you, which should be the left. And you curl up, other side, you lift turn, side bend left, lengthening away like we did before. Come all the way up and now go over towards the knee. Remember this motion when we're gonna do the saw in a second and lift.

Now we stretch the arms long and you go in a big twist and you reach past your foot lengthen, lengthen, lengthen. Come up open and center, lift. I want you to go as deep as it feels good. Right? So if these extra twist is too much, just stop sooner. If it feels good, go for it.

You twist, you go pass your little toe. You reach, reach, reach, now come up, increase, increase, increase, and center. And again, lift twist exhale, and you go reach, reach. Now, come up. Big exhale, look back as much as you can.

And back to center, release the arms. And now we roll on the stomach for more extension. Now we should be ready for it. So from here, I want you to prepare the hands kind of in line with your eyes down onto the floor. And I want you to think about following a ball rolling, or following something in front of you.

You look at the floor, you reach, you lengthen, your back muscles are bringing you up and you go on your elbows and then you slowly release down. And again, reach long, long, long, long. Come up this time we stay and we do the first neck crawl. Look, drop down, circle around and center, reverse, drop down, circle around and center. Let's roll back down onto the floor.

This is still a roll right on the stomach. Now we come up, we lift, we open, this time if you can, you come up higher, chest stays open and we go look, circle around and center, reverse, drop, circle around and center. Let's go down one more time. Get your hands a little closer if possible. And now you lift.

It's a little bit of a bigger arch and I want you to thread one arm underneath like a bridge. Now here, keep your hips anchored and look back up to the ceiling. Exhale, exhale, and come back to center. You lift, we do the same thing on the other side, thread the arm through, go with the shoulder on the floor. Keep your hips on the ground.

Look up to the ceiling and then back to center and all the way down. Release your head, you just lift one leg at a time. Nice and easy. And then we go with a little negative torsion going across the opposite elbow and back to center. And again, kick it up and go across to center.

One more set, open the hip and arch a little bit the spine and release. Now we come up on the forearms and we go kick, kick, reach down, kick, kick, reach down. One more set, kick, kick lengthen down, up kick, kick, lengthen, and back. Bend your arms. We do double two, three and open, open, open, other side.

You go kick two, three and stretch, open, open, open, and again, 3, 2, 1, and come up as high as you can. And last one, kick two, three, and you go reach, reach, reach, and you go back and you sit on your heels, nice and stretching the back. Now, if you have a second, rest your hand on your hands, your forehead on your hands. And you breathe with the diaphragm, push the bell into your thighs and exhale, your temple and I want you to push against the thighs to allow some breathing room and some opening in the back. And now we bring both arms to the right and we stretch the side of the trunk a little bit, the arm, the (indistinct) we go to the other side, same thing, reach, perfect.

And then we turn around for neck pull, so long legs. Don't worry about the arms. Most important is spinal articulation. So actually let's do the first one with the arms down. I want you to reach and just smoothly articulate the spine.

Exactly like we did all the way through the mat so far. And then we come up and over. If you feel like you can have the arms, but it's not mandatory at all, the priority is the spinal articulation and open. I personally prefer to come up with arms reaching forward to allow that articulation and up and close control, control, control, and release. Now legs up and we do Jack knife, back, reach, roll down the spine, lower up and you go back, reach lengthen, lengthen, lengthen, down, up.

And now from here we go into corkscrew, twist, roll down to the right, circle around and lift, twist, down to the left, circle around to the other side and up one more set, roll down. We prepare this right? All those rotational movement, all those twist the prep with the CanCan. One more time, roll down and up and down, down, down, and lift, roll down right in the center. Come up, sit tall inhale, exhale, exhale and center, exhale, exhale and center.

And again, twist, twist, center and twist, twist and center. Now I don't know if you realize, but we didn't do the crisscross in the abdominal series. So let's do a variation now. Let's go onto a side plank. I want you to put the hand back here and then we go elbow to knee and then we open and again, exhale in a open.

Let's do two more times in and open, open, open, last one, in and stretch. Now turn to a plank and we can end one or three or two pushups. Anything you like, you can stay on your toes or you can go down on the knees. Anything that feels best. Now we go turn to the other side, side plank and we go touch and open exhale, and touch, open exhale, two more and open and again, touch and open.

Now let's go back to our plank. And from here, we'll lower our body down with control, control, control, and we go, opposite hand to the foot and you open, open, open, and down release. Now we switch, we go opening with the other side and down. Now we go and grab the ankles with both hands. We open the chest and we start rocking, breathe.

And now sit back round, stretch your back. We go up to another elephant. We start with an elephant should feel way different now. And we can walk through the hands through the harms and we sit down. Now here, let's do a teaser that help us with articulating the spine.

We start with a single leg from here, we open almost to a backstroke position and then knee to the chest, open and knee to the chest, open and knee in, now other side, we go close and open, close, open, close, open. Now with two, up and out and in open in, bring the arms through and we go rock back and come up and again, back, back, back, stretch your legs and come up and again, back stretch and come up. And now the last one, back and come up. Now let's go kneeling. We hand with a couple of nice stretches kneeling up and we go with a nice chest expansion.

inhale pull and we turn the head other side and center. And again, inhale pull you go look, look, and center. One more time. Open, hold the breath and exhale and exhale. And again, inhale back.

Hold look, look now, continue with the arms up. Grab one wrist, side bend and down, sitting for a nice little mermaid and lift other side up and you go stretch and lift. And again, grab down, down, down and up and last one easy reach, stretch, and you come up and lift. So hope this mat helped you to really go and explore all the movements of the back and really feel ready to go for your day. And we'll go and work more in this direction on the wunda chair that will come up soon.


1 person likes this.
Thank you Ilaria, feels so good!
1 person likes this.
This was FANTASTIC!  Deepest gratitude!
1 person likes this.
How did Ilaria pack so much goodness into one quick class? That felt great. Loved the side plank/criss cross variation! Thank you, Ilaria and PA
1 person likes this.
Great class loved the variations and felt so good on my back too 
Peter R Fantastic! Thank you  🙏🏼  for the feedback Peter!
Michelle E Thank you Michelle! happy you like it 😉
Jordan R Thank you Jordan 🙏🏼 Happy it felt good on the body. I like to change things up sometimes 😜
Darren T PERFECT 🙌🏻 ! That was my goal 😉 Thank you Darren for the feedback!
Mark Hamilton
Great class. Liked all the teaser variations. Loved the flow. Will do again.... Thanks!
Mark Hamilton Wonderful Mark! Thank you for the feedback!
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