Do game drives wreak havoc on your back? Try these simple Pilates moves

Doing this easy stretching routine will help banish tension and protect your spine. Try it before and after long flights and road trips too

17 October 2021 - 00:01 By Leigh Crane
The private deck of a safari suite is a blissful spot to do a bit of light stretching.
The private deck of a safari suite is a blissful spot to do a bit of light stretching.
Image: 123RF/wavebreakmediamicro

Game drives are great but several hours in a vehicle rolling down bumpy roads can play havoc with your back.

Pilates instructor Leigh Crane has put together a quick routine you can do in your room — or on your private deck — either before or after your drives, or simply just to boost your spinal health and relaxation vibes. 

1. THE ROLL-DOWN

The roll-down.
The roll-down.
Image: Siphu Gqwetha
  1. This is a great way to lengthen the spine. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, your knees slightly bent and slightly tuck your pelvis under.
  2. Allow your neck to relax, dropping your chin to chest and start to roll down slowly through your spine (arms relaxed).
  3. Roll as low as your body allows you to — stay here for one breath before starting to roll back up to standing. Keep your knees slightly bent.

2. THE PELVIC CURL

The pelvic curl.
The pelvic curl.
Image: Siphu Gqwetha
  1. Lie down on your back and bend your knees. Your feet should be flat on the floor. Exhale and tilt your pelvis by engaging the abdominal muscles. Try to pull your belly button down towards your spine.
  2. Inhale as you press your heels towards the ground and lift your tailbone. Raise your hips.
  3. Hold for five seconds (or breathe five times) while digging your heels into the floor. 
  4. Exhale as you roll the spine back to the floor.

3. SUPINE SPINAL TWIST

Supine spinal twist.
Supine spinal twist.
Image: Siphu Gqwetha
    1. Lie on your back with your legs straight out in front of you. Exhale and draw your left knee into your chest and extend your right leg flat on the floor. Keep your left foot actively flexed throughout the pose. Inhale.
    2. Exhale and cross your left knee over your midline to the floor on the right side of your body. 
    3. Open your left arm to the left, keeping it in line with your shoulders. Rest your right hand on your left knee or extend it to make a T shape with your arms. Turn your palms towards the ceiling.
    4. Turn your head to the right, bringing your gaze over your shoulder to your right fingertips. 
    5. On your exhalations, release your left knee and your left shoulder towards the floor.
    6. Hold the pose for five to 10 breaths.
    7. To come out of the pose, inhale and roll onto your back, drawing your left knee into your chest. Release both legs to the floor to neutralise your spine for several breaths before doing the other side.

4. REST POSITION

The rest position.
The rest position.
Image: Siphu Gqwetha
  1. Start in the “table top” position, on your hands and knees, with your knees slightly apart, or just wider than your hips.
  2. Scoop in your abs and sit back on your heels, letting your forearms come down to the ground.
  3. Lengthen your arms over your head.
  4. Stay here for five breaths.

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