Simple Solutions for Back Pain #8: Foam Roller Stretch & Arm Lifts

 Foam Roller Series for Home and Travel by Geneviève Nedder Shoulder stretch on the Foam roller

Geneviève headshotI’m in the process of completing a Foam Roller Series to post with the goal of launching it to you this winter. In the meantime, you can find many of the Foam Roller  exercises in the Back Pain Relief category of the Changing through Movement Blog.

How the Foam Roller can help You stretch Chest and Shoulders

Lying on the foam roller effectively releases tension and also aligns your spine, improving posture. When you add shoulder range of motion exercise, you open your chest, which releases your upper back and stretches shoulder and arm muscles safely.

Stretch Your Chest & Shoulders with this Simple Foam Roller Exercise

Arm Lifts

Lie on the foam roller lengthwise and imprint your spine; start with your arms by your sides on the floor.

  • Inhale – Lift your arms in line with ears while keeping your spine imprinted.
  • Exhale – Lower your arms to 3 or 4 inches above the floor.
  • Repeat 8 to 10x

Reminder: keep your abdominal muscles engaged to help protect your back and strengthen your core.

For optimal alignment, make sure your head is on the foam roller completely and if possible, your tailbone too.

Simply lying on the Foam roller and allowing your spine to imprint can improve your posture significantly. The arm lift exercise lengthens your spine while also opening the chest and shoulders.
Have you been on a foam roller yet today? Be good to your spine and add more foam roller work to your private Pilates sessions and home routines.

For more back pain relief and foam roller exercises, simply Search the Changing Through Movement blog using the “Search this website” option in the right column. Find a post you really like? Please share on social media!

Simple solutions for Back Pain-#7 Vitamin C


Geneviève headshot

Consider adding and/or increasing your Vitamin C intake.

Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant with many benefits.

In addition to improving the immune system, helping to lower cholesterol , improving symptoms of asthma, and a way to prevent various diseases, vitamin  C can help relieve back pain.  Among it’s  potent benefits, vitamin C aids in the repair of muscle tissues.

I prefer to get vitamin C from food in the most natural way possible.

Natural sources of Vitamin C include:  Oranges, Papaya, Cherries,  Strawberries and pineapple and broccoli.

Life is busy! For many of us,  it’s not always possible to increase vitamin  levels with nutrition.  Adding a supplement can be helpful.

May Health practitioners recommend supplementing with a 1000mg of Vitamin C a day.  Some practitioners recommend up to 3000-6000 mg. a day. *

Improving your nutrition,  and boosting your immune system can help manage back pain and often times decrease pain significantly.

* As always, please speak with your Medical doctor before adding or increasing any supplements.

Simple Solutions for Back Pain-#6 Hydrate

Geneviève headshot      Hydrate consistently.

I know, I know, I’m a broken record with hydration reminders and  especially for my Tucson studio clients.  This is important though.

 Back pain and Muscle aches are often caused by dehydration.

Even mild dehydration can bring on pain.

When Back pain or muscles aches come on, drink 2 to 3 glasses of water immediately.

Many factors can cause dehydration; including, certain medications and high temperatures. In our extreme desert temperatures, it’s even more vital to drink 8 to 10 glasses of water a day.  Try drinking a glass of water  a half  hour before meals.  In addition to staying well hydrated, drinking a glass of water 20 to 30 minutes before your meal aids digestion.

Consider starting your day with a few glasses of water.  I like to mix things up by adding a few teaspoons of fresh lemon juice or a few  sliced cucumbers.

A Hundred Modifications- Pilates matwork

smallpicOne of the things I love about the Pilates work is that you never outgrow it. Once you’ve diligently worked on an exercise and it is perfected, it can almost always be modified to be more advanced and challenging. On the flip side, if an area of your body is tight or troublesome, an exercise can be modified down to be more comfortable. I always think of the Pilates Hundred and its many modifications. Sometimes I keep my knees bent at 90/90, some days I feel very strong and I lower my legs out towards the floor. On days where my neck is tight, I put one arm behind my head.
I love that about Pilates. I never get bored and am always challenged!
– Hilary


Previously Published October 2011

Simple Solutions for Back Pain: #5 Posture check

GenNedder_blueshirtrednecklace Check your posture and counter balance poor habits.

Poor posture is a primary cause of back pain.

Being hunched over at the computer or twisted in some way, sitting on a chair without lumbar support and keeping your back overly arched , working at your desk for long hours at a time,   driving, talking on a cell phone, standing long periods of time without supportive shoes, scrap- booking, painting,  cooking,  –  these are ways we get stuck in a non-supportive postural position and create or exacerbate back pain. spine                    

The Solution: Posture Check.

  • Align and strengthen the muscles in your back to hold your bones in the right place. Train your posture on a consistent basis by increasing your awareness, improving your gait, and incorporating postural correction techniques into your exercise program.
  • Learn good posture for sitting, standing, and sleeping.
  • Take daily steps to change, condition and re-condition your muscles and ligaments. When you change poor habits, you simultaneously retrain your muscles to hold correct spinal alignment. Our muscles are designed to hold our bones in the proper alignment.

Tools and Tips:

  • Lie on the Foam Roller 5 to 10 minutes in the morning or evening.
  • Practice the Pilates Roll down series on the wall.
  • Cultivate a daily Lower Back Stretch series.
  •  Incorporate basic Yoga Asanas every morning or in the evening before bed.
  • Invest in quality computer and desk chairs.  This can be a game changer when dealing with chronic neck and back pain.
  • Use a lumbar support while working on a computer or driving long distances.
  • Practice Pilates mat work several times a week.
  • Practice Tai Chi.

Depending on your present posture and whether or not you have chronic back pain, it may take some time to return to functioning and eventually ideal posture.  Be patient.  Our bodies are designed to be in the right alignment.  As Jospeh Pilates said, to move “efficiently.”




Simple Solutions for Back Pain – #4 heat

Heat therapy is highly effective.

Whether your pain is low back, upper back or a combination of both, heat therapy is an inexpensive and easy way to get relief.

With so many experts, products and varying opinions it can be confusing and overwhelming about how and where to start.

GenNedder_blueshirtrednecklaceI’ll share details of my successes and failures with therapies in posts to follow. For now, here’s another simple solution for relief.

Use a heat pack.

A simple starting place is a heat pack. This is Dry heat therapy. If you don’t already have one, you can purchase a heating pack that warms up in the microwave at Target, Walgreens, most Health food stores and spas.  Ask me if you need help. Packs come in a variety of forms; including, rice filled and gels.

Apply the warmed pack to the part of your back that aches and begin with 10-15 minutes. 10- to 15 minutes is generally sufficient; however, if your pain is intense, you can increase your time to 45 minutes to an hour.

Safety Precaution: Heat should never be used for a new injury. This will prolong your healing process and could increase inflammation. The general rule of thumb is ice with a new injury for bruising, swelling and pain. Ice for 48 hours as much as you can. In most situations after 2 days, it’s safe to begin using heat. Please check with your Doctor before beginning any therapy.



Simple Soutions for Back Pain #3: Back Systems3


In this 3rd part of Simple Solutions for Back pain series, I’d like to share a little bit about the Back Systems machine and, specifically a low back stretch. The  stretches on BackSystem3 are easy, safe and effective.  I encourage you to try this machine if you have access to one.

Diana Bailey, my dear friend and longtime mentor introduced me to this machine 22 years ago in Denver. Before I was strong enough to try anything Pilates or Pre-Pilates related, Diana worked with me for several months on the Back Systems machine, the Swiss Ball and the Foam Roller to increase my flexibility and decrease muscle spasms in both my Upper and Lower Back.

During that first year of working with Di, I was going to Physical therapy, Massage Therapy, and Pilates on a weekly basis.  The PT stretches helped and the balance and stability training on the Ball made me internally stronger; however, the Back machine consistently gave me relief .  Every single time! It seemed odd to me that a little machine with simple stretches could give me such tremendous relief. Back Systems allows you to stretch in a positions that creates gentle traction on your lower spine, work you abdominals.  There’s also a terrific series for Shoulders and Lats which I’ll cover later on.

For the past 19 years, I’ve kept a BackSystem3 machine in my Pilates studios and continue to use it myself as well as with clients every week.

Try the first exercise on the Back System3 machine.

Give yourself 10 or 15 minutes before or after your private or semi-private  sessions to get on the Back Machine.

How to:


Stretch #1 The Low Back Stretch:  Start by holding each stretch for 2 seconds, then work up to a 30 second hold.  BackSystems recommend 5-7 repetitions.

This simple exercise provides gentle traction, is a safe lumbar stretch and feels really good!
Tucson studio clients, ask me for details or take a look at the guide. It’s on the “handle bars.”

BackSystems 3- Low Back stretch

Simple Solutions for Back Pain #2- Posture Tips

GenNedder_blueshirtrednecklace This second installation in my ongoing series for Back pain relief is focused on posture.

My simple solutions for back pain relief come from personal experience and successful application of these recommended practices and movements. I’ve spent the past  3 decades in continual recovery and management of my jaw, neck and back pain from car accident injuries and genetic arthritic challenges.  Receiving back pain relief from easy adjustments and daily practices has made a huge difference in my ability to cope with pain when it flares up, and prevent flare-ups from happening as often.  My sincere hope is that these tips lead you to find back pain relief as well.

Step 1:  Correct Seated Posture

Seated posture is the easiest for us to let slide, yet luckily, also a simple one to correct

  • To begin:  Check your seated posture. Specifically check your alignment while working at the computer, driving and watching t.v.
  • When seated, ideally keep your knees in alignment with your hips.  Place your feet approximately hip-bone width apart. It can be helpful to have your knees slightly higher than your hips (an inch or two).
  • Avoid crossing your ankles or legs. In fact, make a commitment to this today and always.   Sitting with our legs crossed puts the pelvis in an uneven position and consequently changes spinal alignment. Place your feet on a wedge or pillow to increase comfort levels instead. I use the wedges from OPTP. (see below)

Step 2: Correct Shoulder Placement

We all have been known to wear our shoulders as earrings on occasion!  Check in with yourself and practice these shoulder placement tips.

  • Allow your shoulders to be relaxed and down.  Create some space between your ear lobes and shoulders (in other words, avoid wearing your shoulders as earrings!).
  • Take a moment today to notice your alignment while sitting at the computer or while driving.  Notice the placement of your head and shoulders as well as your feet.

Small postural adjustments such as the ones above can provide noticeable back and neck pain relief and improve your posture significantly.

Where to find Posture Support Products

There are a couple of options for purchasing the wedge.  Look it up at OPTP, a teriffic company that offers physical therapy products and a large selection of back care products.  Another great resource is the Better Back Store.  Another simple and inexpensive solution that I use beneath my computer desk  is a 3-ring binder.  Any office supply store will have various binder options.

Please let me know if you have  questions or comments.  I  appreciate hearing what you discover on your road to increased energy and vitality. If you find relief, please share this (and other Simple Solutions for Back Pain tips) on Facebook, Linkedin  or via this email.




Simple Solutions for Back pain – #1

Geneviève headshotDo you wake up with Back or Neck pain?

Remember, even the smallest misalignment held many hours (like sleeping), can cause discomfort and pain. If you already have an injury or struggle with chronic pain, the alignment piece of the puzzle is even more important. 

Here are a few simple solutions for back pain from sleeping:

Avoid sleeping on your stomach. Sleep on your side with a pillow between your knees with you legs bent. Take pressure off of your  back by keeping your knees an inch or two higher than your hips. Keep your head supported on a comfortable pillow that allows for proper cervical support. Bed, Bath and Beyond have a generous selection of pillows that won’t break your budget.

These basic small changes can make a big difference in your pain level. Let me know how you’re doing and stayed tuned for simple solutions part 2.


Traumeel for healing.

Traumeel Gel-photo
Heal quicker and safer with Traumeel Try heel  products as a substitute for Ibuprofen. I use traumeel gel on my back and neck in the morning before  walking or Pilates sessions.

You can also use it on a bruise to speed up your recovery time. It can be used alone or in tandem with Zeel by layering the products if you’re using a cream or gel. Don’t hesitate to ask us questions.

“Safe, Effective, Natural Relief”

Traumeel(R) uses your body’s natural resources to reduce pain and shorten the length of your recovery for mild to moderate musculoskeletal conditions including; muscular pain, joint pain, sports injuries, and bruising. It is safe for all ages and there are no known drug interactions or side effects.

Other benefits include:

*Pain relief without side effects

*Over 60 years of worldwide therapeutic use

*Over two-dozen scientific and clinical studies conducted on Traumeel(R)

*Recommended by many physicians as safe, effective, prescription-free alternative to NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs)

“Don’t mask the pain-deal with it”

Traumeel Tablets-photo