Exercise Your Way To A Healthy Back

The body is a machine. It was meant to move about. When it doesn’t move, it gets weak. That weakness can lead to back pain.

As technology has propelled us forward as a society, we have taken a step backwards as a human machine. Video games, computers, and remote controls have all lead us and our children to a sedentary lifestyle. Obesity is becoming an epidemic.

This is what happens to your muscles when you don’t move your body. Muscle tone begins to slacken. The muscle fibers aren’t used anymore so they forget how to be flexible and stretchable. Injuries, like back pain, are common in people who have been sedentary. Lack of muscle tone and flexibility are primary reasons sedentary people are injured easily.

But, you can exercise your way to a healthy back. Here’s how.

Remember, exercise is a good thing. We may resist, postpone, and complain about having to do it, but these are the reasons we all need exercise whether we like it or not:

  • Increases blood flow
  • Strengthens muscles
  • Increases muscle flexibility
  • Releases endorphins (feel good substances and natural painkillers)
  • Increases immunity
  • Speeds up rehabilitation

Much of the pain reported by back pain sufferers occurs in the lower back. Back pain can be exacerbated as we put our back and muscles further out of alignment trying to find a comfortable position. You can see where this is a vicious cycle.

Just as important as good exercises to strengthen and stretch the back muscles are exercises to strengthen the abdominals. Why? The abdominal muscles, or ” abs” , do much more than look good in a bikini. They support the lower back, keeping our posture correct and in proper alignment. This abdominal support, or ” girdle” protects the back from injury by supporting it.

Proper exercises for the back go hand-in-hand with proper exercises to strengthen other areas of the lower body. One of the most frequently reported injuries are from improper lifting techniques. Squatting through your lifts, using your legs, abs, and buttocks reduces the chances of injury to your back while you lift an object. Exercises used to strengthen these areas of your body also help protect your back.

Exercises for total back health

Aerobic exercises increase endurance, lowers blood pressure and heart rate. Aerobic exercise also helps in losing weight. Excess weight is a contributing factor in many back injuries.

Types of aerobic activity:

  • Walking
  • Bicycling
  • Swimming or water aerobics

Along with aerobic exercises, anaerobic activity, also known as strength training, is needed to build up muscle tissue and help prevent injury by having toned, strong muscles. When the muscles that support the back are strong, the spine can move properly, in alignment, without sustaining damage.

Strength-Training Exercises for a Healthy Back:

Back extensions – Lie flat on your stomach. With hands laced behind the head and the back and buttocks muscles engaged, lift up about an inch or two. Hold the stretch and slowly return to starting position. Relax your muscles, and repeat. Do not lift your upper torso so high that your lower back tenses or hurts. Small motions are perfect.

Back rows – Builds the muscles of the lower back. This will be done in a slightly bent position, standing up and leaning body slightly forward and down with knees slightly bent. In this position, take dumbbells in each hand and, with elbows bent and at side, raise and lower the dumbbells slowly down and back up. Be sure to hold in your abdomen as you do this exercise.

Pelvic tilt – Lay flat with knees bent and feet on the floor. Slowly raise the pelvis while squeezing the buttocks. Return to start position, relax, and repeat. Again, keep your abdominal muscles firm throughout the upward thrust, lower, relax at the start position, retense abdominals, squeeze and lift buttocks off the floor, hold, and return to start position.

Exercise builds stamina, sheds pounds, and tones and strengthens muscles. All these results can help to eliminate back pain caused by everyday wear or an injury. When the muscles are strong, they can better handle changes that would hurt a weaker back. Exercise your back and it won’t let you down!

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