“A flexible low back and hamstrings and a strong core are key to preventing injuries,” says Danica Edelbrock, exercise physiologist at Scripps Center for Integrative Medicine. “Unfortunately, most people neglect flexibility, focusing solely on cardio and strength training.”
Ignoring our back muscles can lead to injury and back pain. Adding gentle stretches and back strengthening exercises can eliminate those aches and pains and improve your flexibility and athletic performance.
“Core strength comes from strong abdominal and back muscles,” says Ms. Edelbrock. “Back injuries have a way of leading to pain in the knee, shoulder, neck and more. Taking a few minutes first thing in the morning or when watching television at night can help.”
Be sure to talk to your doctor before you start any new exercise program, especially if you are experiencing back pain.
Our exercise physiologist or personal trainer can work with your physician to design a program that is best for you.
Keep your neck and shoulders relaxed when you’re doing these strengthening moves and simple stretches.
Lie on your back, with your knees bent with your feet flat on the floor. Inhale and root your tailbone to the floor. Feel your back lift slightly. Exhale and draw your belly button up toward the ribcage and down toward the spine. Feel your front abdominal wall contracting and strengthening. Repeat 10 times.
Continue lying on your back with your hips rooted. Bring your knees over your hips to a 90-degree angle and hold for 10 to 20 breaths.
Roll over onto your hands and knees so that your hands are directly under your shoulders and your knees are directly under your hips. Lift your left arm and right leg to hip level. Keep everything square with a flat back, and don’t drop your shoulder or hip. Inhale, exhale and then switch. Complete 10 repetitions on each side.
Lie on your back and place your legs on a chair at a 90-degree angle. Relax your shoulders and neck. Allow your knees and legs to feel heavy on the chair. Hold for two to five minutes.
Pull both knees to your chest. Using your hands, pull on your shins gently (hold under the knee if you have knee pain) and release your back muscles. Hold stretch 10 to 20 breaths.
Lie on your back with your knees bent; lift one foot and straighten your knee without locking it. Push your heel out from your tailbone, keeping your hips rooted to the ground. Hold for 10 to 20 deep breaths on each side.
On your hands and knees, inhale and let your back relax. Exhale and arch your back (like a cat), looking at your thighs. Draw belly button in to strengthen abdominals. Repeat 10 times.
Start on hands and knees and sit back towards your heels. (Put a pillow over your heels if needed.) Reach your arms straight out on the floor pushing your chest towards your thighs. Let your head and shoulders relax. Hold for 10 deep breaths.