Of all the musculoskeletal complaints for which people will go to a doctor, back pain is the most prevalent. The more sedentary we are (think about our desk jobs and all the hours we spend in front of a TV or computer screen), the weaker all of the structures that support our frame-muscles, tendons and ligaments-become. This in turn makes back injuries more likely. However, it doesn’t have to be this way. By strengthening your core, which includes not only your back, but your abdomen, buttocks and hips, you are more likely to prevent injury. By practicing a few of these back strengthening exercises on a regular basis, you can help keep your back pain-free.
1) Bird Dog – While on your hands and knees with your hands directly beneath your shoulders, stretch out your right arm and your left leg so they are parallel with the floor. Hold for 20-30 seconds, then repeat with the opposite arm and leg. Keep your head aligned with your back by looking at the floor or just slightly ahead.
2) Bridge – Lie on your back with your legs bent and your feet close to your buttocks (your knees should be approximately above your ankles). Keep your arms on the floor close to your sides and, tightening your buttocks, slowly lift your hips off the floor until a straight line is formed between your knees and your neck. Hold for 30 seconds, return your hips slowly to the floor, rest for 30 seconds, and repeat twice.
3) Forward Plank – Lie on your stomach and raise up on your elbows with your forearms flat on the floor in front of you with your fingers interlaced (forming a sort of triangle between your hands and shoulders), and your elbows directly below your shoulders. Then tighten your abdominal muscles and raise up on your toes, bringing your hips off the floor, forming a straight line between your head and heels. Hold for 20-30 seconds and repeat twice.
4) Side Plank – Lie on your side with one foot resting on top of the other. With your elbow under your shoulder and your forearm in front of you, raise your hips off the floor until a straight line is formed between your head and feet. Be sure to keep your hips from falling to the front or back. Hold for 20-30 seconds and repeat twice.
5) Superman – Lie on your stomach with your arms stretched out in front of you and lift your head, arms and legs off the floor until only your ribcage and hips are touching the floor. Hold for 20-30 seconds and repeat twice.