Gentle Barre movement to help with back pain

Back pain is something that affects a lot of people at some point in their lives but the good news is there is SO much good stuff built into our Barre sessions to help. We're all about posture and core stability and these are two golden tickets in helping you to become stronger and more mobile with less back pain.

How does our posture impact back pain?

A common cause of back pain can be down to muscle imbalances due to bad posture. If you imagine the type of position you're in when you're sitting at a desk or a sofa, there's probably quite a bit of slouching happening. Your head might be drawing forwards, your mid back rounding, some pressure coming into the tummy and down onto the pelvic floor. This slouched posture can result in shorter, tighter muscles in your chest, lengthened and weaker muscles in your mid back and extra pressure on your abdominals and down onto your pelvic floor. These are all things we can work on improving and you'll find this really helps bring more awareness of your posture which you can take into everyday life.

How can we improve our posture?

  1. Work on adjusting forward head posture by drawing the chin back and bringing the neck into more of a neutral position.

  2. We want to try and open up across the chest a little more by pulling the shoulder blades back and down.

  3. Work on keeping the ribcage stacked over the pelvis to help you find a deep breathing pattern and get great rib expansion and diaphragm contraction.

  4. Find a neutral position for your pelvis where you don't get lots of hyper extension into the lower back and equally don't get a feeling of over tucking and glute clenching.

  5. Focus on finding consistent core engagement and stability. Your core is made up of so many more muscles than you might think which include your back muscles so you might like to think of it as a corset wrapping around your middle. We want all muscles of the core playing their part when it comes to stabilising the spine so try not to just think of it as the abdominal muscles which sit at the front.

  6. Work on strengthening the glutes to help in finding a neutral pelvis position and to make sure the hamstrings aren't overactive and taking on lots of the work where the glutes should be firing first.

  7. Work on equal strengthening and stretching of the hamstrings to help with tight and weak hamstrings.

  8. Keep your knees soft so you're not tempted to lock them or find a sway backed position.

  9. Keep your weight evenly spread in your feet and try to notice if there are times when you allow your ankles arches to roll inwards and try to correct this - particularly in your Barre sessions. Ankle arches rolling in will have an impact on knee alignment so it's definitely one to watch out for.

Modifying your Barre workouts if you're struggling with back pain

Prioritise form above anything else! Slow down, focus on stability and control. If you can, do your class in front of a mirror so you can easily see what your form is looking like. Sometimes it's really tricky to feel when something is out of alignment (particularly with all of the other things you're focusing on!) so it's much easier if you can see it. Make sure you take the time to warm up properly, particularly focusing on the lower body and getting those hamstrings warm!

Here are a couple of specific modifications that you can use to help with standing leg work and core sequences.

  1. Modify single leg work to help with back positioning. Changing your position by standing taller at the Barre and keeping the back leg a little lower really helps to take some of the work out of your core (including your back) by changing the angle of your back. This will really help give you the headspace to focus on form and core control without feeling too much pressure in your back.

2. Modify seated core work for extra back support. Using the Pilates ball you can give yourself a little extra support for your back whilst still getting a great core workout. Try to make sure you don't sink back into the ball too much as you'll find it hard to get good core engagement if your back is rounding into the ball.

This week we've got a brand new session on the video library which takes you through some great strengthening sequences that will work your core as well as your glutes and hamstrings and some stretch sequences to work on areas of tightness. You can take the session here.

I've popped some links to technique videos below which will also help you improve your form.

How to find your neutral spine position

How to modify leg work at the Barre

Finding great core engagement in your table top core work

Build glute strength with your glute bridges

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