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Quick Pilates exercises at your desk

It is estimated that a third of UK adults suffer from lower back pain. With the recent increase in people working from home, it is no surprise that the numbers are on the rise. Try our 8 recommended exercises that you can do throughout the working day without having to leave your desk. Watch Christine’s video below as she demonstrates how to perform easy movements and stretches that will reset your postural muscles. Performing these exercises often throughout the day will stretch stiff muscles and reduce aches and pains that are a result of reduced mobility and movement throughout your working day.

Sit upright (neutral spine)

  • Place your feet flat on the floor, hip width apart.
  • Place your sit bones on the front half of your chair.
  • Ensure you are weighed equally on your sit bones and feet on the floor.
  • Engage your core muscles, think about your belly button moving towards your spine.
  • Engage your pelvic floor.
  • Lower your shoulders back and down so you feel length in your spine and width across your chest.
  • Lengthen the back of your neck, drawing your chin in slightly.
  • Imagine the crown of your head moving towards the ceiling above you.

Neck rotation

  • Sit upright, inhale and engage your core muscles and pelvic floor.
  • Keeping your shoulders level and still, exhale whilst you turn your head to look over your right shoulder.
  • Inhale to return your head to centre.
  • Repeat alternating sides 4-6 times.

Upper back twist

  • Sit upright, inhale and place your right hand across to the outside of your thigh.
  • Exhale as you rotate round to the left side.
  • Ensure to keep length in your spine, engage your core muscles and relax your shoulders back and down.
  • Throughout the movement, keep your head, neck and torso in alignment.
  • Your sit bones should both remain on the seat. Don’t be tempted to lift the opposite side to where you are turning to as this will reduce the benefits of the spine twist.
  • Inhale as you return to centre.
  • Repeat each side 4-6 times.

Side bend

  • Sit upright, inhale and place your right finger tips on to your right shoulder.
  • Exhale and reach your left hand down towards the floor bringing you into a side bend.
  • Inhale to return to centre and switch arms ready to repeat on the other side.
  • Keep your core muscles and pelvic floor engaged throughout the movement.
  • Ensure to keep your shoulders back and down.
  • Move slowly with control and repeat 4-6 times on each side.

Seated roll down

  • Sit upright.
  • Inhale, engage your core muscles, pelvic floor and lower your chin towards your chest.
  • As you exhale, roll down though your spine imagine one vertebrae at a time folding forwards.
  • Allow your arms to lower towards the floor and keep your sit bones and feet firmly down and equally weighed throughout the movement.
  • Once at the bottom, inhale and engage your core and pelvic floor to prepare.
  • Exhale and reverse the movement, stacking the vertebrae one by one until lastly you lift your head and return to your upright sitting position.
  • Repeat 3-4 times.
  • Sit your hips back whilst keeping your chest lifted and your right knee wide.
  • Engage your abdominals and pelvic floor muscles throughout the stretch whilst keeping you back long.
  • Repeat on the other side.

Chest stretch

  • Sit upright, inhale and float your arms forward to shoulder height.
  • As you exhale, open your arms and chest wide. Reach towards the wall behind you sliding your shoulder blades towards your spine.
  • To progress this stretch, lift your chin and eye line slightly to enjoy a small spinal extension.

Hip flexor stretch

  • Stand tall with your feet hip width apart, take your right foot and place it on your chair.
  • Square your shoulders and hips.
  • Shift your weight forward so your hips slide forward, opening your left hip flexor.
  • If you feel this stretch more in your calves, soften your left knee and float your leg heel just of the floor.
  • Engage your abdominals and pelvic floor and tuck your tailbone under to feel stretch in the front of the hip.
  • Hold the stretch for 15-20 seconds.
  • Repeat on the other side.

Hamstring stretch

  • Place and extend your right leg onto your chair.
  • Keep your right leg straight and bend into your left knee whilst sitting into your hips.
  • Place your hands on your left thigh for support and make sure you can feel the stretch in your hamstrings.
  • Engage your core muscles and keep your chest lifted throughout the stretch.
  • Hold the stretch for around 15-20 seconds.
  • Repeat on the other side.

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