Leg lifts can activate and strengthen your entire back, abdominal wall, hips, and improve mobility in these areas. Strengthening these areas is essential to stabilize the spine. As in the previous exercise, we offer two levels of complexity. You can raise only the leg, which is easier, or lift the opposite arm simultaneously as well. You can cushion your knees with a blanket or towel to prevent pain. Follow these steps:
1. Start on all fours with your back straight.
2. Straighten and lift the left leg. Keep the knee bent and point your toes to improve stability. Activate the muscles of the core because arching your back in this position is harmful. Note: there’s no need to raise the leg all the way up, even a slight lift will engage your back and ab muscles.
3. Hold this position for 4-5 seconds and then return to all fours.
4. Repeat with your right leg. Do this exercise 5-10 times on each side.
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It doesn’t get simpler and safer than standing side bends. Over time, this exercise will strengthen the muscles of the back and give your spine more support while also keeping the potential of straining your muscles at a minimum. You can do this exercise with or without a light weight. Follow these steps:
1. Start in a standing position, hands on the waist.
2. Reach with your left hand down from your waist along the left side of the body. You can either keep the right arm on the waist or reach it overhead, as the women in the picture.
3. Stretch to the side as far as you can without experiencing pain.
4. Return to the initial position. Do this exercise 10 times on each side.
Bridge pose is another reclined stretch, but it also has the added benefit of strengthening the hips and lower back. Avoid this stretch if you have a neck injury. Follow these steps:
1. Lie on your back, keeping the knees bent, feet on the floor, and arms at your sides.
2. Activate your hip muscles and glutes (the buttocks), and raise them slowly up. Do not go all the way up if you feel any pain in the back. Some people may actually not lift their buttocks off the mat fully at first, while others may be able to move all the way up until their upper body and hips make a straight line.
3. Wherever you are, hold the position for 5-10 seconds, and then return to the initial position. You can do this exercise 10-15 times.
The “W” stretch is called that way because your arms resemble the letter “W” when you’re doing this stretch. It’s an easy and rewarding exercise for the upper and middle back that releases any tension and stiffness in these areas. You can even practice a version of stretch near a wall, which is shown in the video above. To complete this exercise without a wall, follow these steps:
1. In a standing position, arms neutral along the body, move your palms so that the big fingers are facing out.
2. Bend your elbows and raise your hands until your arms resemble a “W” shape.
3. Now move the elbows back. You should feel that your shoulder blades become closer and closer together.
4. Hold this position for 3 seconds. Repeat 3-5 times.