Pilates Back Exercises

By Josh Baum
The roll over is a more advanced back stretch.
The roll over is a more advanced back stretch.

Pilates is a fitness system based on the concept of precise muscle control. Pilates exercises are generally low-impact and can be performed at home with an exercise mat and a few basic pieces of equipment. Many Pilates exercises specifically tone and strengthen the back muscles, which can be highly beneficial to your golf swing. Performing these exercises regularly can not only build your back muscles, they can help train you to control your back muscles through every movement of your swing, making you a more consistent golfer.

Spine Twist

The spine twist is designed to help increase flexibility and dexterity when moving the spine above the waist. The general idea is to achieve a greater range of motion above the waist while keeping the pelvis and legs stable. Perform this exercise by sitting up straight on an exercise mat with your legs stretched out in front of you. Point your toes back toward your face so that the arches of your feet are stretched tight, and tighten your calf and thigh muscles. Raise both arms and point them straight out to your sides, creating 90-degree angles with your body. Breathe deeply, then pivot to your right as you exhale by turning only at the waist. Hold the position as you inhale, then turn as far to the right as possible as you exhale again. Return to the center position as you inhale and take a few more deep breaths, then repeat this process by turning to the left. Repeat the entire exercise up to nine more times on each side.

Mermaid Side Stretch

The mermaid side stretch will strengthen your lateral back muscles and help provide a greater range up upper body motion. Perform this stretch by sitting up straight on an exercise mat. Bend both knees, then position your right leg in front of you and your left leg off to your left side. Place your left palm flat on the mat at your side, then slowly raise your right arm until it is pointing straight up at the ceiling. Slowly bend your waist directly to your left and keep reaching leftward with your right hand as you bend to the side in a fluid motion. Reach as far as you comfortably can, and try to reach an inch or two more so that you feel some pressure on your muscles. Hold this position while breathing deeply for about 15 or 20 seconds, then slowly return to a normal sitting position. Reverse the position of your legs and repeat the process with your other arm while leaning to the other side. Repeat the whole process as many as nine more times on both sides.

Roll Over

The roll over is an exercise designed to stretch and tone all of the muscles in the back in a fluid motion. Pilates beginners can perform this stretch, but it is one of the more challenging moves for novices or those with less back strength. Prepare for this exercise by lying flat on your back on an exercise mat with your arms at your sides and your legs pressed together. Breathe deeply and, while inhaling, bring your legs up so they are pointing straight up at the ceiling. Exhale as you lift your buttocks off the floor and, keeping your legs straight, lift your feet over and behind your head. When you reach the end of this movement, you will be "standing" on your shoulders with your buttocks pointing in the air and your legs parallel with the floor. Use your arms, which should be in the original position, to keep your body stable. Inhale as you stretch the arches of your feet by pointing your toes, then exhale as you slowly roll your back down onto the mat, returning your legs to the position where they're pointing at the ceiling. Try your best to make this a controlled, fluid motion. Repeat this exercise up to four more times.

The Saw

The saw is another exercised that supports flexibility while building strength. For this stretch, sit up straight on an exercise mat with your legs spread in front of you in a V-shape. Stretch your arms straight out to your sides so that they form 90 degree angles with your torso. Inhale deeply as you pivot at the waist to your right side, keeping your arms in a fixed position, and control your motion so that your left pinkie finger touches your right pinkie toe. Hold this position while you exhale slowly, then return to the original position while you inhale. Take another breath, then inhale as you pivot to the other side and repeat this stretch on your left side. Repeat both stretches up to nine more times.

Spine Stretch

The spine stretch is a simple exercise that can help strengthen your back, but it is also a great way to stretch after other exercise or even after a round of golf. For this move, you should sit up straight on an exercise mat with your legs spread apart in front of you and the arches of your feet flexed. Inhale deeply as you raise both of your arms and extend them forward in front of you. Keep them straight, with your palms flat and your arms parallel to the ground. Exhale as you lower your head slightly, stretch the tips of your fingers toward your toes and curve your spine forward. Make this movement slow and controlled, and keep your legs flat on the mat. Inhale while extending this stretch as far as you can, exaggerating the curvature of your spine. Finally, exhale while slowly straightening your spine in a controlled fashion, returning to the sitting position. Repeat this move up to nine more times.

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