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Dealing With Bad Postures & Text Neck? Take 10 Minutes To Do These Pilates Moves

Ali Handley
Author:
June 18, 2017
Ali Handley
Written by
Photo by Christine Hewitt
June 18, 2017

Have you ever looked around while standing on a subway platform or while waiting in line for coffee and realized that everyone is looking down at their phones?

Unfortunately for our poor bodies, most of us spend the majority of our day in a hunched-over position. Couple this constant spinal flexion with the fact that gravity is constantly pushing us down, and it's no wonder that your posture isn't the best and your back and neck ache. The remedy? A few simple back and shoulder-strengthening exercises and chest stretches that aim to counter this rounding of the upper spine.

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Before beginning, it’s always a good idea to stretch out the front of the body—namely, the muscles of the chest commonly known as the pecs. These muscles become very tight when your spine is constantly flexed, so giving them a good stretch will allow you to more easily access the muscles of the back we want to strengthen. And as a cautionary note, please don't attempt these if you have a back injury!

Here's an example of a strong chest stretch:

Photo by Ali Handley

Now that you've stretched out your chest, let's get going on improving that posture and achy back.

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Half-swan.

Photo by Ali Handley

Lie on your stomach with your feet slightly turned out and a little wider than your hips, with your two hip bones and pubic bone resting on the mat. Keep your nose and forehead down and keep your hands just in front of your shoulders.

On an inhale, begin to feel your shoulders melt down your back. On an exhale, pull your belly button to your spine, then imagine you're balancing a marble on the tip of your nose as your head and shoulders float up. On an exhale, come back down to the mat. Repeat this eight times.

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Airplane.

Photo by Ali Handley

While lying on your stomach with your feet slightly turned out and a little wider than your hips, rest your two hip bones and pubic bone on the mat with your nose and forehead down and your arms reaching out to the sides in line with your shoulders, pinkie fingers pressing down into the mat, and the palm of the hands face forward.

On an inhale, begin to feel your shoulders melt down your back; press down and out with your pinkie fingers. On an exhale, pull your belly button up to your spine, then imagine you're rolling a marble to the tip of your nose and balance it there as your head and shoulders float up. Maintaining this spinal position, reach the arms out and up so they're in line with the body. Exhale and lengthen back down to the mat. Repeat this eight times.

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Superman.

Photo by Ali Handley

While lying on your stomach with your feet slightly turned out and a little wider than your hips, with two hip bones and pubic bones resting on the mat, place your nose and forehead down with your arms down by your sides. From there, roll your shoulders forward toward the mat and with your palms facing up.

On an inhale, roll your shoulders back, feeling them melt away from your ears, and rotate your palms so they're against your thighs as you slide them down the side of your body and reach for your feet. On an exhale, pull your belly button up to your spine, then imagine you're rolling a marble to the tip of your nose and balance it there as your head and shoulders float up and your arms lift and lengthen down the side of your body. Release and repeat eight times.

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Swimming.

Photo by Ali Handley

While lying on your stomach, feet slightly turned out and a little wider than your hips, with two hip bones and pubic bones resting on the mat, place your nose and forehead down, and reach your arms out in front of you with your palms facing down. Imagine you're making a small X with your body.

Inhale through your nose, roll your shoulders back, and feel them melt down away from your ears. On an exhale, pull your belly button up to your spine, then imagine you're rolling a marble to the tip of your nose and balance it there as your head, shoulders, arms, and legs float up.

Continue to breathe normally as you swim your arms and legs for 10 breaths.

Plank to downward-facing dog flow.

Place your wrists under your shoulders, spine long and neutral. Hold the plank for 30 seconds here. On an inhale through the nose, pike the hips into the air with your shoulders melting down your back as you come into downward-facing dog.

Exhale out your mouth and lower the heels, stretching the calves and hamstrings. Come up on to the balls of your feet. On an exhale, slide your shoulders down your back, lower the body back to the plank position, and hold. Repeat four times.

Want more workout ideas? Find out why this aerial yoga master takes boot camp classes regularly, and find out why summer is the best time to start foam rolling.

Ali Handley
Ali Handley

Ali is a pre- and postnatal Pilates instructor from the beaches of Sydney who has been living in New York for eight years now. She lives in Williamsburg with her husband and two small children. Working first in the frenetic world of fashion and PR in Sydney and London, she moved to New York in 2009 and turned her passion for Pilates into a career. She received her certification at Pilates Academy International, training with the co-founders at their flagship studio on Fifth Avenue. Soon after, while instructing at Erika Bloom Studios on the Upper East Side of New York and in the Hamptons, she discovered that her true calling lay in pre- and postnatal Pilates, and she quickly made that her focus of discovery and education. She created BodyLove Pilates during her pregnancy and postnatal recovery of her second baby, Henry, in hopes of bringing tailored workouts and trusted education to support mamas and mamas-to-be worldwide.