Pelvic tilt: to reduce lower back stress and improve postureLie on your back with knees bent. Press the slight arch in your lower spine down onto the floor. Tighten the muscles in your buttocks and your abdominal muscles. Raise your backside slightly off the floor, pressing your lower back flat against the floor. Hold for 14 seconds. Repeat three times.
Trunk twist: to keep the spine flexible
Lie on your back with knees bent and your hands behind your head. Cross your right knee over your left thigh and, if possible, hook your right foot under your left calf. Slowly allow your right knee to drop toward the floor on the left side, while you turn your head to the right, keeping both shoulders on the floor. Hold for 14 seconds. Slowly bring your knees back to the starting position. Repeat. Then cross your left knee over your right thigh and repeat exercise on the other leg twice.
Cat stretches: removes stiffness
Get down on your hands and knees, with hands on the floor at shoulder width and knees about 20 cm (8 inches) apart. Slowly raise your head to look up at the ceiling, push your bottom up and outward, arching your back as if you were to push your stomach towards the floor. Hold for seven seconds. Slowly drop your head between your upper arms, arching your back upwards into a rounded aspect. Hold this for seven seconds. Repeat both these positions twice.
The lunge: eases discomfort, improves flexibility and mobility
Kneel on your right knee with your left foot forward and your left shin at about 60! to the floor. Move your weight to the left foot, pushing your right foot backwards, and lower your trunk so that your hands rest on the floor on each side. Keep your back in a straight line with your outstretched right leg. Hold for seven seconds. Rise slowly. Change feet and repeat entire exercise. Do twice more on each side.
The towel twist: relieves tension headaches, stiffness, morning numbness and tingling
Twist a hand towel into a sausage like roll. Standing upright, hang this around your neck; the ends should be in front of your nipples.
Take hold of the ends with your hands, and pull down on the towel across the back of your neck. Bend your head to the right side (not forward), then roll it back and across to the left side.
The rolled up towel acts as a support behind your neck. Then roll your head back again across to the right side. Repeat this 20 times (don't bend forward).
The squat: improves balance and posture
Stand, feet slightly apart, with a book under your heels and the ball of your foot on the floor.
You may use the backrest of a chair to rest your hands straight ahead. Tighten your buttocks and abdominals as you lower yourself into a squat, Look straight ahead and don't bend. Hold for seven seconds. Repeat three times.
Abdominal cramp: to strengthen abdominal muscles
Lie on your back with knees bent and both arms straight out beside you. Keeping your arms straight, bring your hands up to touch your knees while lifting head and shoulders off the floor and tucking your chin onto your chest.
Hold for seven seconds. Repeat four times.
II you suffer from back pain, review any exercise programme with your chiropractor, osteopath or physiotherapist before you start it.
Harald Gaier is a registered naturopath, homoeopath and osteopath.