The back pain is one of the biggest health problems in the world right now. The chiropractors and masseuses are earning millions for treating and relieving the back related problems. Spending hours sitting hunched before computers in the office and then spending remaining hours of the day hunched before personal gadgets at home will definitely and eventually take its toll. Apart from these common lifestyle causes, the weak core is also responsible for back pain.
For the record, the core includes the erector spinae, paraspinals, rectus abdominus, internal and external obliques, and the gluteus maximus acts as an accessory muscle. In this article, we will list series of exercises that can strengthen your core significantly and will help you in tackling back pain more effectively and efficiently.
Over the years, plank has emerged as the most important core exercise. Unlike the classic crunches, which have always been the most done and popular core exercise, the planks engage all core muscles and are key to complete midsection training. Not only it sculpts an enviable midsection, but is also helpful in strengthening your back muscles.
Get into the pushup position. Bend your elbows at 90 degree and place your wrists straight in line, with your entire weight resting on your arms. Remember that your elbows should be directly below your shoulders and your body from head to toe should be in straight line. Now squeeze your abs as if you are expecting a punch. Hold the position as long as you can. To do it properly and to gradually improve your fitness levels, you will have to use a timer. Start with a goal of holding the pose for 20 seconds and with improved fitness levels, start adding 10 seconds of increments. You have to perform three sets of the planks.
The side planks are bit more challenging than the normal planks. They have to be performed bilaterally and it would be great if you are doing them with a training partner as it will help you get the form absolutely right. Remember, if you want the best results, the right form is an absolute must.
Lie on your left side, with your body in a straight line from head to toe and resting on your forearm. Once again your elbow should be directly below the shoulder. Now contract your midsection and gently lift your hips off the ground. The body should still be in a straight line. During the exercise, your hips should be squared off and your neck should be in line with your spine. Depending on your fitness level, hold the pose for 20 to 40 seconds. In case, you are finding it too challenging, you can start with bent knees. You have to do this three times on each side.
Refrain from keeping your hips low or arching it upwards. Although doing so will make the exercise more comfortable to perform, but you won’t get the best results. If you are having any kind of arch, it means you are relying on passive structures (bones, ligaments, tendons) of the spine and not the muscles that we are targeting, which is never a good thing.
As the gluteus maximus is a supporting muscle to the core, it is important we strengthen it as well. And, as you have to spend prolonged time sitting, you need to have all the muscles at the peak condition. It will also help keep your back healthy and pain free. Plus, the glute bridges are a great exercise for the lower abs.
Lie on your back on the floor. Bend your knees and place your feet flat on the floor. Try to bring the heels as close as possible to the hips. Now, drive up through your heels and upper back to lift your glutes off the ground. Drive your hips up as high as possible, squeezing the glutes hard. Keep your belly button drawn in, so you don’t hyperextend your back. Your body should form a straight line from your shoulders to your knees. Hold the position for a second or two and then lower your body back to the starting position.
Refrain from pushing backward off your heels. Remember, you have to drive straight up and that your knees shouldn’t cave in. At the top of position, squeeze your glutes for a second or two. You have to feel this exercise in your glutes and hamstrings, and not in your lower back.
Arm and Leg Raise
This exercise along with strengthening your spinal muscles, will also improve your balance. This is another exercise in which having a training partner could be helpful. However, if you don’t have anybody around you, then you can opt to do it in front of mirror. This can help you to ascertain whether your back is straight or not. Although it is predominantly a back exercise, it will still work your abdominals and gluteus.
Get on your all fours on the floor. Now, slowly lift your left arm and fully extend it out in front of you. At the same time, extend your right leg backwards. Remember, you have to squeeze your abdominals and gluteus in order to maintain proper balance while doing the exercise. Hold the position for five seconds before lowering your arm and leg back to the starting position. Repeat the same process with other leg and arm. Do, 3 sets of 10, bilaterally.
The hip rotations, along with strengthening your lower back muscles also work your obliques. And, it is very simple to do. Though, it is a bit challenging. To do this exercise, you will need a big medicine ball.
Lie on your back on the floor, with your feet on the medicine ball and the arms by your side. Now, slowly roll the ball side to side as far as you can without your feet falling off the ball. Ensure that while doing the exercise your shoulders should remain on the floor and you aren’t arching your back.