Weak muscles can aid and abet back pain – sometimes even cause it. Strengthening the muscles of the abdominal core and the lower back can therefore seriously decrease the presence and severity of this pain. Regular exercise using proven techniques can help you build up your muscles and prevent future pain and injury. Naturally, knowing the right exercises is incredibly important.
The Back-Strengthening Workout
Because back strength is so important to treating and preventing back pain, we’ve devised a complete exercise plan, from warm-up to cool-down, to help you eliminate the occurrence of low- to moderate-back pain.
Properly warming up is absolutely vital to your work-out, as it sets the tone and readies your body for the coming exercise. Just as a race car needs to be warmed up before it can hit its peak performance, your body must be prepared for optimal benefit.
Start by engaging in light aerobic exercise for five minutes. This can be as simple as briskly walking on a treadmill or riding a stationary bike at a relaxed pace. You don’t want to push yourself to extremes, since this is just to get you ready for the coming workout. However, you also want to work hard enough to elevate your heart rate and prepare you for the work ahead.
After you’ve finished your easy warm-up, it’s time to stretch. Stretching engages the muscles and loosens them up, decreasing the likelihood of injury and increasing the muscle’s ability to grow and strengthen. Engage in the following stretches:
- The Pelvic Tilt. Lie on your back with the bottoms of your feet touching the floor and your knees bent at about a 90-degree angle. Gently push the small of your back flat against the floor. Perform five to 15 repetitions.
- The Twist. Taking the same position, with your arms flat against your side, exhale as you gently move your bended knees down to the right until they get as close to the floor as is comfortably possible. Come back up to the resting position, before repeating the process to the left. Perform five to 10 repetitions.
- Knee to Chest. Lie flat on your back with your knees straight against the floor. Supporting your thigh with your arms, bend your knee and bring your right leg up as close to your chest as is comfortable. Hold this position for 30 seconds before returning to the rest position. Repeat motion for your left leg. Perform four to six repetitions.
Strengthening the Muscles
Now it’s time to strengthen the abdominal and back muscles of your body’s “core.” Strengthening these muscles will support the back and significantly reduce back pain.
- The Bridge. Lying on your back with your knees bent at a 90-degree angle and your feet flat on the floor, push your pelvis up so that you’re supporting your weight on your elbows, your head is on the floor, and your body slopes gently downward from the knee.
- Basic crunches. Crunches are like sit-ups, only without the last stage of bringing your torso to a vertical position – a motion which disengages the abs and puts strain on the back. Instead, stop when your abs are compressed. Do not put pressure on the back of your head. Perform 10 to 20 repetitions.
Finally, repeat the stretching exercises from earlier. This cools down your body and relaxes the muscles after they have been engaged. Continue this exercise plan regularly, and in a short time your strengthened, stretched muscles will be reducing lower-back pain and stiffness.
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