Let’s talk some fitness, shall we? According to current research 80% of Americans will experience back problems during their lifetime. This comes as no surprise as many of us have led inactive, sedentary lifestyles coupled with spending our days hunched over computers, phones, or other various devices. But, as granny said, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Spending a few minutes daily focusing on stretching and strengthening our core muscles and creating spinal mobility are great methods to save money on chiropractor bills, and unnecessary pain medications.
All you will need in the way of equipment is a stable, armless chair. You can also do these standing. Do not force the movements, gently ease into the point where you feel a light stretch on your muscles. If you feel pain, stop and consult your physician before proceeding.
The spine moves in six directions; side-to-side, forward and back bending, twisting right and left. I have an exercise for each of these movements, followed with 2 core strengthening moves.
Lateral Flexion (side to side bends)-sit tall in chair with core engaged (pull your belly button toward your spine as if someone is taking a picture from the side view) and feet flat on the floor. Inhale as you reach one arm to the sky, exhale and slightly bend to the side. Hold for a couple breaths and repeat to the other side. Complete around 6-8 repetitions.
Cat/Cow (front and back bends)-stand facing the chair/feet close to chair. Engage core. Fold from your hips and place palms flat on the chair. Inhale fully and as you exhale round your spine, tucking your chin and tailbone slightly, just as a cat would. Hold for a couple breaths. Then simply reverse the position of your spine, so the spine is somewhat arched downward-tailbone and chin lifted slightly. This is your cow. Hold for a few breaths. Then working with the breathing, exhale to cat/inhale to cow. Repeat the sequence 6-8 times.
Seated Twist (twisting right and left)- sit tall, engage core, arms at sides. Inhale both arms over head in the classic yoga breath, as you exhale twist from the base of your spine, spiraling up through the spine as the hand come to rest near the right hip. Yep, you guessed it, hold for a few breaths, take it to the other side and hold again. Then flow side to side inhaling up/exhaling down 6-8 times.
2 exercises to improve your core strength:
Plank -Make sure your chair is stable against a wall or on a mat. Place your forearms on the chair. Make sure your shoulders are directly over your elbows. Step one foot back, then the other on to your tippy toes. Just hold with core engaged. Back should be flat like a plank of wood propped up. Depending on your core strength hold anywhere from 10-30 seconds. Repeat 3 times. If this option seems too tough try it with your forearms against a wall. If it is too easy, try it on the floor.
Back Extensions (strengthens all the muscles that line the spine, your glutes and shoulders too) Find the same positioning as cat/cow move. This time extend your right leg straight back and you left arm straight forward, hold for one breath and switch sides. Repeat 6-8 times both sides.
Core strength and mobility are the keys to a strong back. Granny also says you are only as young as your spine is strong. Or maybe I said that! Core strength and mobility are the keys at to strong and flexible back. Happy training and if you have any questions, leave a reply and I will get back with you.
Photos taken at the fabulous Sam’s Resort and Spa, Desert Hot Springs CA