Back strengthening ideas
Your strong back helps you enjoy life.
Ninety percent of Americans will experience back pain at some point in their lives, according to Steven B. Kirshner, MD, and Heather Eble, PT. Walking around in pain can really put a damper in your home and work life, not to mention your favorite activities.
To keep you moving and healthy these back strengthening ideas highlight some exercises, stretches and preventive measures.
Exercise and Strength Training
Fitness experts say that aerobic and strength conditioning are the most important activities you can do to prevent injuries, decrease back pain or reduce recovery time if you've already suffered an injury.
Cardio conditioning burns fat and tones muscles which help keep your back strong. Walking, swimming and biking are all cardio activities that are very good for you while being easy on the back. Always wear properly fitted footwear when walking, running or doing any kind of exercising. The wrong shoes or walking incorrectly can wreak havoc on the muscles and joints in your back.
Exercises using dumbbells, resistance bands, exercise balls or your own body weight will improve back strength. You don't have to belong to a gym to get a good back workout. Weighted shoulder lifts, arm presses and pushups are all good for increasing strength. If you're just starting to exercise, remember to modify and start slowly. You don't want to cause injury to an already weak back.
Exercise Your Front to Help Your Back
You should exercise all your core (trunk) muscles as well as leg muscles to provide stability for your back. Some of the most important muscles to exercise however are your abdominal muscles. Weak stomach muscles don't provide enough support for your back and can greatly increase your chances for injury. Using a stability ball to perform crunches and doing static curls among other exercises can greatly improve your overall core strength.
Yoga and Stretching
Stretching your back and body with yoga can be extremely effective for building strength while remaining gentle on the back. Yoga is also a great way to relieve stress which also helps tight muscles of the back to relax.
Gentle Yoga Stretches
Each time you take a break from sitting or standing can be a great opportunity to stretch or do yoga. The cat pose is a great stretch that's easy, comfortable and enhances breathing. Other poses that are great for beginners are forward folds, spinal twists and child's pose. The more flexible your back is, the less likely you are to injure it.
Yoga for Strength
Many yoga postures such as proud warrior, arm/leg reaches and triangle pose are designed to tone and build strength. If you're just beginning to practice yoga, you can use props to modify these exercises until you get stronger.
Keeping Your Back Strong
When your mom used to tell you to sit up straight, she was giving you good advice. If you listened to her, chances are you learned good habits of protecting your posture. If you stand, sit or even sleep in correct position, your back will be much stronger. Continuing bad habits like slumping or leaning to one side or the other will keep your back weak and open to injuries.
Whether you're standing or sitting at a desk for long periods, you should keep your body in proper alignment. This means distributing your weight evenly across both feet and keeping your ears, shoulders and hips in a straight line. Supporting your lower back with a pillow while you're sitting also helps.
Whether you're sitting or standing, staying in one position for too long will cause undue strain on your back and shoulders. Taking frequent breaks to gently stretch and move around will help keep your muscles stronger and more flexible. Remember to keep your muscles relaxed and straight in any position without stiffening or tightening them.
Lifting properly means bending at the knees and using the strength of your legs while picking up a heavy object. This takes the strain off your back and shoulders and will greatly reduce the risk of hurting your back.
Correct postures, stretches and exercises are key back-strengthening ideas that will start you on your way to a healthier, stronger back. When your spine is strong and flexible, everyday activities and working out become much easier and enjoyable. Before you start any workout program, check with your doctor.