Many of us suffer from some level of back pain at some point in life. Some may find that it comes and goes and it’s usually just tiredness from standing or working all day. Some may find that it is a nagging pain that never quite leaves. Some are acute, some are around the general area. Whatever it is, it is most like because we have weak backs. Let’s face it, how many of us actually exercise our backs regularly?
Because I personally suffer from lower back pain, and my father is now complaining of lower back pain, I decided to dive into it and although the world of back problems is HUGE, I think a lot of it can be eased, if not prevented, by exercising your back. I think that we all like to focus on our abdominals because we want to look good in a bikini or a speedo, but if we exercise our abs too much without strengthening our backs, you’ll get a muscular imbalance, something which might cause back pain. So here are some basic back strengthening exercises to ensure we keep backaches out of the way for as long as we can.
Now if you do have a major back problem such as a prolapsed disc, or herniated disc or slipped disc, please seek medical advice before trying these exercises out because if there already is a major injury, exercising the wrong way can aggravate it further.
1. Glute Bridge
This exercise strengthens your lower back (Quadratus Lumborum muscle) as well as your butt (Glute muscle). When you raise your hips, make sure you’re kicking off the heels of your feet, and squeeze your butt muscles at the top and hold for 3 seconds. Try 3 sets of 10-15 repetitions.
This can be progressed to using only one leg to raise your hips, with the other leg straight up in the air.
2. Side plank hip raise
The side plank hip raise is a great way to strengthen your hip stabilizers (Obliques and Quadratus Lumborum muscles). When your stabilizers can kick in quickly, you’ll lower the risk of injuring your back when having a fall or getting off balance. Again make sure your whole midsection is activated when you raise your hips, hold for 3 seconds, and gently lower hips to ground. Try 3 sets of 10-15 repetitions.
Again, it can be progressed. Try doing it on your palm instead of your forearms when you get the hang of it.
This exercise has many variations which target different segments of the back. Try A and B out first, raising your legs and holding for 3-5 seconds, then raising your arms and holding for 3-5 seconds. You can also try C out that is to raise opposite limbs and alternating them. Do 3 sets of 15-20 repetitions.
Once you have mastered that you may raise both hands and feet off simultaneously into a boat-like shape and hold.
4. Around the world
This exercise is more advanced and you do it in succession from A-B-C, and then again on the other arm. It engages the entire core section plus the back muscles so you get the whole package. Always remember to activate your midsection and squeeze your butt tight throughout the movement. Try 3 sets of 15-20 reps on each side.
Once you are good with that, progress is by going up on your palms instead of forearm.
Try these exercises out at home and see if your back pain leaves you for good. If you’re an endurance athlete, whether you’re a runner, a cyclist or a swimmer, you will benefit a LOT from having a good strong back. Have fun!