This Pilates Spinal Extension Exercise Will Help You Fight Back Pain

In this post: The Pilates Spinal extension exercise on the Arc barrel is a wonderful way to easily strengthen your spine and prevent future back injuries.

If you have been working out in a gym, this Pilates Spinal extension exercise will probably be very familiar to you.

Several years before I became certified in Pilates, I became a personal trainer. I read books, took classes, and tested to get my certification. Although Pilates and strength training have common goals, they don’t often share exercises.

Spinal extension on the Arc barrel is one exception. The Arc barrel provides just enough lift to give you space to really lengthen through your spine and feel your spinal muscles work.

Although they may not look similar, Spinal extension on the Arc barrel is really just like a spinal extension exercise off of your choice of any number of pieces of equipment. Plus, the benefit is the same–you get a strong back.

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Why You Should Do the Pilates Spinal Extension Exercise on the Arc Barrel

The Pilates Spinal extension exercise is yet another way to build strong spinal muscles such as the erector spinae and iliocostalis lumborum, and it will stretch the abdominals and psoas. This is incredibly important for anyone who wants to have a strong core and prevent future back injuries.

So often, when people want to have a strong core, they do ab work. They crunch to their heart’s content only to discover that they’re just as prone to back injury as the average couch potato.

This is because you have to strengthen all the muscles in your core in order to become stronger and less likely to injure yourself. That means your spinal muscles need just as much work as your abs.

The Pilates Spinal extension exercise on the Arc barrel is a great way to strengthen and challenge your back muscles. Here’s how to safely practice this beneficial exercise.

How to Do Spinal Extension on the Arc Barrel

this pilates spinal extension exercise will help you fight back pain
  1. Place the Arc barrel so the curve seems like a bump in the road on your mat.
  2. Carefully, lower yourself onto your stomach over the Arc barrel
    Your hips should be near the apex of the barrel. You will probably feel your knees on one side of the barrel and your forehead on the other side.
  3. If it feels like your pubic bone (the front part of your crotch) is painfully pressing into the barrel, slide a towel or piece of foam under the front of your hips. This should help alleviate any discomfort.
  4. Straighten your legs behind you and press the balls of your feet into the Mat. Make sure that your feet are hip-width apart.
  5. Allow your upper body to round over the barrel.
  6. Stack your hands so that your forehead rests on top of your fingers.
  7. Use Pilates breathing.
  8. Inhale and lift your low belly toward your spine.
  9. Exhale, press down through the balls of your feet, and lift your upper body. Try to lift so your spine fully extends and you end up looking at the wall in front of you. If your spine isn’t that strong or flexible yet, work on lifting so your body is in a straight line with your gaze down at the Mat.
  10. Complete 5-10 reps.

For Visual Learners…

Here is a video of how to practice the Pilates Spinal extension exercise on the Arc barrel for all the visual learners out there.

Finding the Best Arc Barrel

If you’re in the market for an Arc barrel, I recently compared the top five Arc barrels on the market. Here’s who made my top five list and which barrel I’d buy.

Before You Practice the Pilates Spinal Extension Exercise, Don’t Forget…

Even though this exercise is about strengthening your low back, you should never feel pain. If you do experience low back pain, stop what you’re doing and take a moment to focus on your form.

Make sure you lift your belly button toward your spine, and let all your spinal muscles work to lift you. If only your low back muscles try to lift, you won’t be able to come up quite as high, and you could possibly injure yourself. This is why it’s so important to try to extend through your whole spine.

By mindfully practicing the Pilates Spinal extension exercise on the Arc barrel, you will be able to strengthen vital spinal muscles and improve your overall strength of your core. This will help keep your back safe from injury.

Also, I just want to let you know that if you’re interested in learning the basics of Pilates and yoga, I offer a FREE 30-day challenge. Click here to sign up today!

What’s your favorite way to strengthen your spinal muscles? Let us know in the comments section below.

About Sarah Stockett

Hi, I'm Sarah! I'm a certified Pilates and yoga instructor with a passion for pain relief. I believe you can use simple exercises to relieve your aches + pains. AND, I believe I can teach you how.