If we could look through your phone or laptop’s camera right now, would we find you hunched over, curled up, or twisted with your legs tucked underneath you? Don’t worry– we can’t see you! But if your posture’s not perfect, you’re not alone. Especially in today’s WFH culture, makeshift desks with kitchen chairs aren’t built with ergonomic design in mind.
If we told you that we can take away your WFH pain, would you be intrigued? No… we can’t stop the constant influx of Slack messages, virtual team building, and Zoom meetings that could have been an email. Emotional pain is not our forte. But we can absolutely help you reduce the physical pain that stems from slouching over a computer.
At its core, Pilates was designed to strengthen your core (see what we did there?). You’ll also improve your flexibility and maintain spinal alignment– keys to balancing out the damage done by 8+ hours staring at a screen.
We’re sharing our five favorite Pilates exercises designed to reduce your pain and straighten your stance.
5 pilates exercises that will improve your posture and reduce pain
When your core is strong, your spine is supported, and the risk of back injury decreases. The bird dog exercise is great for beginners who want to increase stability and strength.
Get into position on your hands and knees taking care to keep your head, shoulder blades, and tailbone are in a straight line. Now, you’re ready to extend your opposite arm and leg to form a line. The goal is to keep everything in alignment, so be sure your knee and hip face the floor– no points awarded for rotating out and extending your leg up extra high. Then, return to the starting position.
Feeling crabby? I would, too, if I was in pain all the time! This move is a little more advanced, so there are a couple of modifications to achieve the best results.
The crab reach starts in crab position (knees bent at a 45° angle with feet pointing forward, palms on the floor just behind you with your fingertips pointing backward, and tailbone hovering just off the ground) with your feet a little wider than hip-width apart. Beginners will raise their left hand in front of their face (left palm facing the right wall), drive down through their heels, and push up into a bridge before returning to the first position. More advanced perfect posture-seekers can continue with the rotation. The eyes follow as the hand reaches up and over until fingertips point toward the ground and the top shoulder is stacked over the lower shoulder. Then, return to the first position.
We know. To some, the word “push-up” is scarier than any ghost story. Hang with us, because this is a very different kind of push-up. If you find your shoulders inching closer to your ears by the day, this will help you build strength and get those shoulders back where they belong. Start in plank position, and be sure your body is in a straight line — no piked booty or sagging back. The key to scapular push-ups is that you’ll never bend your elbows. Instead, retract your scapula (shoulder blades) and then push back to the starting position. Easy peasy, right?
Lay facedown on the floor, and plant your palms toward the bottom of your ribcage. Begin by hovering your head above the ground with your core and booty engaged. Keep your ears in line with your shoulders and press your palms down into the ground. Beginners can practice a baby swan with their chest off the mat, holding for a few seconds before returning to the starting position.
For the high swan, continue to extend vertebrae by vertebrae until your arms are straight. At this point, your upper thighs should be off the floor. Now, slowly come back down to the floor and repeat the exercise. Don’t rush this one!
Loaded beast to plank
The loaded beast to plank hold sounds pretty intense, but don’t let the name intimidate you! Start in the plank position and be sure you’re pulling your belly button to your spine and keeping your booty down. Keep your palms on the floor and shift your body backward until you’re sitting on your heels. Use your quads to push yourself back up to the plank position.
You don’t need to spend hundreds or thousands on a new desk and chair (although, we always support purchases that enhance overall health). Instead, you can straighten yourself out– literally– in just a few moves.