5 exercises to relieve back pain for office based workers

Sitting at a desk for hours each day often leads to reduced mobility and back pain. Some of the effects of spending time at a desk include –

• Weak abdominals
• Tight chest
• Shortened hip flexors
• Strained neck and shoulders

Practicing these 5 Pilates exercises each day will help relieve and reduce back pain and discomfort, both in the short term and long term.

1. Spine Twist
• Sit tall on sit bones on the floor, legs crossed in front
• Cross arms with finger tips resting on elbows and elbows slightly lower than shoulders
• Level shoulders and pull abdominals in tightly
• Inhale to prepare and lengthen your back
• Exhale as you rotate around to the side
• Inhale as you return back to centre
• Exhale and rotate to opposite direction
• Throughout the movement, keep your head, neck and torso in alignment
• Repeat 4-6 times each side

2. Shoulder Bridge
• Lie is Supine (on your back, knees bent and feet on the floor – hip width apart)
• Inhale and tilt tailbone up
• Exhale and peel the spine off the floor lifting hips towards the ceiling, keeping the hips level
• Inhale and hold
• Exhale to reverse the movement back down to supine
• Move slowly and controlled
• Repeat 4-6 times

3. Supine Twists
• Lie in Supine (as before)
• Arms out wide and in line with shoulders
• Inhale and lower the knees to one side, rotating the head to the other side
• Keep shoulders on the floor and feel the stretch in the lower back
• Exhale and slowly bring the legs and head back to the start position
• Repeat 4-6 times alternating sides

4. Side Bend
• Sit on floor, cross legs
• Place one hand on the floor at the side
• Inhale and float the other arm to above the shoulder
• Exhale and take the arm further over, flexing the spine to the side
• Inhale to lift back to centre
• Exhale and lower arm
• Repeat 4-6 times alternating sides

5. Slicing the Air
• Stand in a neutral position, feet under hips and lengthen up through the body. Arms down by your sides, palms facing back
• Inhale to prepare
• Exhale, rotate and raise the arms above the head, performing a slight spinal extension wider than shoulder width and rotating the arms so that the palms face up
• Inhale and return to start position
• Repeat 4-6 times

Throughout the exercises, keep the core muscles engaged – pull in and strong. Also engage your pelvic floor. If it feels too challenging at any point, reduce your range of movement and decrease how many repetitions you are doing.

Pilates is an excellent way to improve and maintain back strength and mobility, allowing you to move freely without pain or restriction. To find out more about how Pilates Scotland can help you, contact us at