Workout of the Week: Keeping Your Back Healthy
People often complain of having a sore back. In fact, nearly everyone has probably experienced back pain or strain at some point in life.
If back pain is something you experience on a regular basis, it is important to assess its cause, and visiting a health care professional like a chiropractor or physiotherapist may be your best option.
It is equally important to be proactive in keeping your back feeling good. Regular exercise and maintaining good posture can help you with this goal.
The movements below are gentle in nature. They aim to stretch the muscles of your back and mobilize your back and hips.
1. Stand with your feet hip width apart, arms by your side, and shoulders relaxed.
2. Nod your chin to your chest and start to slowly fold forward, until your hands are on the floor or as close to the floor as possible.
3. Let your arms, head, neck, and shoulders completely relax. Keep your knees slightly bent. This will help keep your lower back relaxed.
4. Scoop your lower abdominals in and start to roll your spine until upright again.
Repeat three to four times. As you do the rolling motion up and down, move slowly. Imagine you are peeling your spine off a wall and then taping it to the wall again. This movement will help to relax the muscles along your spine and take the tension out of the spinal column itself.
1. Sit with both legs extended in front of you.
2. Cross one leg over the other, keeping the knee bent while the other leg remains straight.
3. Rotate your upper body toward the bent knee, as your other hand rests on the floor behind you.
4. Hold this position for 30 seconds; then repeat on the other side.
Repeat twice. The rotation in this position will stretch the muscles of your back and sides.
1. Lying on your back, hug both knees into your chest.
2. Use your hands to circle your legs, hips, and lower back.
Repeat three times. This is a great movement for releasing tension in your lower back and increasing mobility.
Diagonal Shell Stretch
1. Start on all fours and press your buttocks back toward your feet. This movement is like child’s pose, a position commonly performed in yoga sequences.
2. Slide your arms over to the right and shift your buttocks toward your left heel, so you are on a diagonal angle.
3. Reach your fingers forward to deepen the stretch. Hold for 30 seconds, then repeat on the other side.
Repeat twice. This exercise will give your entire back a stretch, lengthening the muscles along your spine and across your lower back.
Use these movements on a daily basis to maintain optimal spinal health and keep your body free from back pain and strain.
Emma-Kate Stampton certifies Pilates instructors and is a certified personal trainer. With 10 years of industry experience, she is passionate about sharing the gift of health and well-being. She is based in Brisbane, Australia.
(Photos by: Willis Lim /Model: Alana Ford/Brisbane Australia)