Back to life: Exercises to strengthen your spine

Does the idea of exercising with a bad back send shivers down your spine?  Lower-back pain cripples millions of Americans each year and prevents many from practicing daily fitness routines, due to a fear of causing further damage to existing weaknesses and injuries.  The spine is a fragile, complex structure.  Simple movements such as putting on your jeans can quickly turn into a situation where you are helplessly lying on your closet floor, pants around your ankles, waiting for someone to rescue you from your spine spasm suffering.  It is for this reason that exercises which on strengthening the muscles of the back and core are so vital.  Spines sprinkled with distressed disks benefit greatly from core exercises because they create a corset of support around vulnerable bones.  Bring your fitness routine back to life by practicing the following core strengthening exercises.

Bird Dog.  Exercises that buff up the belly, back and the love handle lanes of the abdomen are crucial in extinguishing inflammation that is easily ignited in the back.  Bird Dog is a popular yoga position and should find its way into your repertoire.   Begin on all fours, with the knees aligned below the hips and the shoulders above the wrists.  Activate your core muscles and maintain a flat back and relaxed neck.  Extend the right arm forward and the left leg back.  Hold for five counts and alternate onto the opposite side.  Repeat for 60 seconds.

 

Side Plank.  If you are a marathon sitter — hunched over your computer, steering wheel, sofa, kitchen table (you get the idea) — get off your tush and practice your planks.  Planks are an effective exercise for molding the muscles responsible for the movement of your hips and back.  Lie on your right side and elevate the body by maintaining a straight line from your shoulder to your heels.  The elbow is aligned directly below the shoulder, while the neck is linear with the spine.  Hold for 30-60 seconds, then lower.  Repeat on the opposite side for a total of three sets.

Two-Knee Twist.  Rotational movements are often overlooked as an important aspect of our workout routines. The muscles responsible for twisting must be kept strong in order to protect the spine during everyday tasks such as swirling your spine to secure your seatbelt.  Anyone suffering from slipped or bulging disks knows that those movements can easily lead to a full-blown back spasm if not performed gingerly.  Sorry Mr. McCartney, when we twist, we don’t want to shout.  To avoid a lower-back blowout, lie on a mat or carpet with your back pressed into the floor, arms extended straight out to sides.  Raise the legs so they are bent at a 90-degree angle at the knees, and keep the legs connected.  Slowly lower the legs to one side of the body without touching the floor.  Use your abdominal muscles to pull the legs back to the starting position.  Perform the same movement on the opposite side.  Rotate back and forth 10-15 times.

 

{Repeat this circuit three times}

Strengthen your spine and get back in the game.

Earn it.


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