This month has been filled with so many exercises benefiting the spine. From flexion to extension, and a little bit of twisting, March Matness is officially coming to an end.
To wrap the month up, I’ve included a few of my favorite exercises for you below. Check out the benefits of each and what to look for when you’re performing these exercises so you get the best results.
💫Swimming – Spinal extension is super important for everyone. Do you sit all day? Drive a car for work? Text? If any of these sound like you, do a little swim at the end of your day. Swimming opens up your chest and helps release tension in your pecks. Focus on anchoring your shoulders away from your neck and ears and reaching through the crown of your head. Only lift your chest and quads up as high as they need to go to keep your lower back in a neutral state (natural arch in the low back). Try to avoid over extending and focus more on targeting the mid back muscles – your thoracic spine. Kick your arms and legs, alternating in opposite directions while keeping the torso still.
💫Rocking – Similar to swimming, rocking helps open up the chest and extends the spine. Challenge yourself to keep the legs as parallel to the ground possible. Rocking is accomplished mostly by breathing and small shifts of the body forward and back, activating your abdominal and back muscles. The ribs will naturally want to expand wide, but by engaging your abdominals try and control the ribs from popping out.
💫One leg kick – Glutes and hamstrings will definitely fire up if you perform this exercise correctly. Keeping your pelvis and hips slightly tucked to protect your back is super important here. If you can challenge yourself to lift your quads, you’ll feel the hamstrings fire up even more. Again, watch the ribs and turn on those abdominals to find control. Don’t forget to keep your shoulders anchored as they will naturally want to creep up into the neck area. Kick each heel back two times towards your glutes and switch.
💫 Side bend – Probably one of my most favorite Pilates exercises, and it only gets easier with practice. Strengthening your shoulders, back muscles, and oblique abdominals, the side bend also stretches the side body. Focus on keeping your palm directly under your wrist and creating as much space as possible between the wrist and shoulder. As you lower your hips, keep them squared off and avoid letting your weight shift into your neck. Pull up with the belly and hips while still lengthening through the crown of the head.
💫Side kick – This exercise focuses on the control from your belly while strengthening your butt and thighs. You can see in my video, my hips start to sway a bit. Try laying on your side in a straight line from your shoulders to ankles and use your bottom hand to prop up your head for more support.
As you grow, you start to figure out who you are and who you aren’t. Somethings that once interested you might not anymore. And that’s okay. Some people may have come and gone, while others are still riding with you. Once you get to that point, you feel aware of yourself and are content. At least that’s how I’m feeling. I’m becoming aware of who I am. And I’m not doing what I don’t like, simply because it doesn’t make me happy. And in the long run, the key to life is finding happiness.
It’s important to do what makes you happy and do it with the people who make you happy. Being around people who make you laugh, smile, and feel like you’re at your best are the people you should share life with. Those are the ones who will build you up and support you no matter what. Understanding that some people who made you happy once might not anymore isn’t always easy. One thing that has helped me find peace in letting go of those who don’t belong was seeing their perspective of who I am. When you start to allow the judgement of others bring you down and determine your actions, you should consider asking yourself; is this really me? If it isn’t, confront them and let them know who you truly are. If they cannot accept that, don’t force it.
Again, it’s not easy. But as you grow, you’ll find clarity in who you do and don’t want to be. And some of those moments will involve letting go of those who see you in the wrong light. I don’t want to call it a negative light, or even say that you should cut people off. Because you shouldn’t. You should always strive to forgive, and letting go doesn’t always mean forever. Sometimes it’s just the best thing to do in the moment.