Back pain plagues millions of US citizens throughout their lifetime. Back pain can be due to repetitive strain, an acute injury, bony wear and tear, or even simple fatigue. Some experience back pain because they have a sedentary job and the back is weakened due to lack of exercise. Many cases of back pain can be avoided by exercising your back in a healthy way that strengthens the muscles and ligaments.
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Strengthen The Core
The back is not the only thing that keeps your body upright. Your abdomen, together with your back, represents the “core” of your body. Both parts need to be functioning for you to have the ability to stand, stretch, and bend appropriately.
Perhaps one of the best exercises for a healthy back includes abdominal exercises. A weak abdomen puts too much pressure on the back to take on functions the abdomen needs to participate in.
Abdominal exercises strengthen the overall core and will help you have a strong and healthy back. Something as simple as sit-ups can help strengthen the abdominal muscles and the core.
Simple Abdominal Exercises
Abdominal exercises can be done in several ways to strengthen the upper, middle, and lower muscles. For example:
- Sit-ups with your legs straight—this strengthens the upper abdominal muscles
- Sit-ups with your legs bent—this strengthens the middle abdominal muscles
- Lying down and lifting your feet off the floor—this strengthens the lower abdominal muscles
Try to do these three kinds of sit-ups in different sets of ten at a time, and you will have a strong core that will help your back keep your body strong. You should aim for ten sets a day. If you aren’t used to exercising, you may want to start with only a few sets. Otherwise, your abdomen will be sore.
Another core strengthening form of exercise is Pilates. Pilates is best learned through a DVD or online lesson, or personalized lessons from a Pilates instructor. It is a toning type of exercise that strengthens the core, including the abdominal and back muscles. The exercises are easily learned and can be a part of your daily exercise routine.
Simple Back Exercises
You can strengthen the back alone, although most exercises that strengthen the back also strengthen the abdominal muscles as well. Either way, you have a healthier back as a result.
One simple back strengthening exercise involves lying prone (on your stomach) and lifting your leg straight up a few inches off the ground. Do one leg at a time.
Ideally, you should do sets of ten backward leg lifts at a time before switching legs. Do several sets each day to strengthen the back.
Back Exercise Machines
There are machines you can use at the health club that isolate the back muscles. They involve sitting in a chair of sorts that bends backward when you straighten out your back, so you are in a lying position. There is also a version for at home (see resources below).
Different weights can be added to the machine so that you can gradually increase your muscle strength with heavier and heavier weights. Do ten repetitions at a time and several sets of repetitions as part of an overall muscle strengthening routine.
A healthy back is all about core strength training. It includes not only exercises of the back, but exercises of the stomach as well.
Flexibility exercises help your back as well and include things like bending from side to side to loosen the back stiffness and bending forward to touch your toes, which keeps your back from getting too tight.
I have found the following products to help you with back exercises. When researching resources for you, I try to find items that I have personally used or that I would use. I also try to be conscious of price and reviews. Many of the choices below are on the Amazon’s Choice list which means they are highly recommended and priced well.
Pilates for Beginners by Katherine Corp and Kimberly Corp (book)
Full Body Pilates Total Body Fitness by Kait Coats (Prime Video)
Mini Exercise Ball for Stability and Core Training
AeroPilates Reformer (a studio workout at home)
Exercises to Strengthen Your Core and Exercises for Lower Back Pain (Prime Video)
Exercise Mat for Yoga or Pilates
Yoga Therapy for Back Pain, Neck Pain & Stress Relief (Prime Video)
Back RX: A 15-Minute-A-Day Yoga- and Pilates-Based Program to End Low Back Pain by Hilary Hinzmann and Vijay Vad (book)
Low Back Pain Program by Sherwin Nicholson (book)
Happy-Go-Yoga by Christine Chen (book)
A few of the products mentioned are available through Amazon Prime Video. Don’t have Prime?
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Other articles of interest:
How to Sleep With Chronic Pain
Treating Fibromyalgia With Exercise
Disclaimer: This post is for informational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. Medical advice should always be obtained from a qualified medical professional for any health conditions or symptoms associated with them. Every possible effort has been made in preparing and researching this material. We make no warranties concerning the accuracy, applicability of its contents, or any omissions.