Back pain is one of the most persistent, chronic pains we must deal with in our lifetime, and we'd be hard pressed to find someone who hasn't had to deal with it from time to time. That is why it's important to work on the right areas and muscles that not only prevent muscle pain by lowering the stress on our back and lower back areas, but also help to alleviate the pain that comes with it.
Here are four simple yet effective exercises you can perform a few times a week to protect your back in the present and in the future...
1. Lay on your back, feet on the floor, knees bent, legs slightly apart, at the width of your hip.
2. Clench your buttocks and lift it upwards, slowly, vertebra by vertebra, until you get to about shoulder height.
3. Count slowly to three and slowly lower yourself, vertebra by vertebra, while keeping your stomach muscles clenched.
Sets: Do this 10-12 times for a complete session.
What it does: This exercise neutralizes the daily stress the spine deals with. It stretches the muscles that bend the thigh and strengthens the back stabilizers and the lower back muscles. Also, it works your stomach muscles to keep your balance and keep more pressure off your back.
Note: Remember to be patient and go slow.
1. Stand on six (hands, knees, tip of feet) touching the ground, knees at hip height, your elbows a bit bent, your palms at width with your shoulders. Keep your stomach tight but don't move your back or twist your hip.
2. On the count of three, raise opposite hand and leg to a horizontal level and keep them there for three seconds.
4. Slowly and patiently, raise that time up to 10 seconds. Add a motion of raising and lowering your opposite hands and legs, while keeping your stomach tight and your elbows locked.
Sets: Repeat this six times for each side.
What it does: Strengthens your core muscles, strengthens the area of the shoulders and the stabilizing muscles, improves on posture and coordination - to help the spine perform during day-to-day activities such as walking, running, dancing or carrying.
1. Lay on your right side in a straight line, legs continuing the line of your torso. Lean on your arm, while you make sure your elbow is lined up straight under your shoulder.
2. Clench the stomach muscles lightly and gently lift your hip from the floor.
3. Hold this position for 20-40 seconds (according to your progress) and gently lower yourself (no dropping down!).
Sets: Do this three times for each side.
What it does: The exercise builds up the strength and stamina of the stabilizing muscles, strengthening your waist and lower back.
1. Stand up straight and put your hands on your waist.
2. Make a lunge forward, while bending the knee on the forward leg to 90 degrees and bending the knee on the back leg until it comes close to the floor.
3. Again, do NOT hurry. Do this slowly, and remember it's important to keep stability, no wobbling. Keep your stomach tight.
Sets: Do this 8-10 times for each leg.
What is it good for: The exercise improves the body's posture and strengthens your control of your core muscles. This is key to protecting the spine while walking, running or climbing stairs. The exercise uses all the important stabilizing muscles.
Tip: Try to get to a stage where you can actually touch the floor with the knee of your back leg.
Cover image courtesy of bwanderd / flickr