So many people whether they are regular trainers and the gym or just do gentle exercise from time to time suffer from back pain at one time or another. Regular exercisers spend a lot of time and effort in training their outer muscles in order to ‘look good’ when they flex in the mirror, buy not enough think about the inside.
Training the back for strength and conditioning is a very simple process and can be done with a few easy to learn exercises that can be done anywhere, gym, kitchen, bedroom, lounge, it doesn’t matter only a small area of space is needed.
Now when reading magazines or articles on the internet you will probably have come across words such as core, plank, back extensions and wondered what these mean and what exercises can be done to help you if you do suffer from weakened or painful backs.
Gyms can be costly, intimidating and impersonal so a lot of people choose to train from home. This is great as it’s convenient, cheap and motivating as you can do it to your own music or in front of the television.
Below I will go through some very simple exercises that can be done at home with no equipment and very little space yet will work all the major muscle groups of the body and helping to strengthen the back muscles and core.
Lets start with a warm up, this is used to let the body know it is going to be put under stress and allows the heart rate to increase gradually while increasing blood flow to the muscles to make them more pliable and workable. A good warm up will also help loosen up the joints, tendons and ligaments which are often overlooked with painful consequences.
To warm up walk on the spot and continue to walk on the spot while performing the following for 30 seconds each:
- Forward circles of the arms.
- Punching out left and right jabs.
- Elbows back thrusting behind the body.
- Arm straight and raise above head and down behind the body.
- Feet flicked back alternating behind the body.
- Knees up high alternating as you walk.
These simples move will ensure the major muscles have loosens up in a ‘dynamic’ way so they are ready for dynamic style movements.
Here is a list of main exercises to do in order to strengthen and condition the body, if you are in any doubt how to perform them then a simple search on the internet will show you or ask an instructor at your local gym.
1. Planks – Hold your self up on your forearms and toes, raise body off the floor in a ‘plank’ style and pull your abs up nice and tight toward your spine, aim to hold for 30-60 seconds or until your technique fails. This will work your whole core together aswell as being proven to be the ‘daddy’ or all exercises for that flat tummy.
2. Squats – Stand feet slightly wider than hip width, keep whole foot flat on the floor and sit back as if sitting down on and imaginary chair. The push through your heels to standing position again. When squatting down brace abs in towards spine to work the core and support lower back muscles. Also ensure to keep look forwards and up to help keep spine neutral although leaning from the hips is acceptable. This will work all your lower body muscles as well as your core which kicks in to keep your spine supported and to stop you leaning to far forwards.
3. Press Up – Box press ups, half press up or full press ups, there’s a press up for all abilities. These will work you arms, chest, back and shoulders.
4. Bridge – Lay on your back, bend knees so feet are flat on the floor, raise your body up so thighs, hips and body are ‘flat’ hold pulls abs in tight for 3 seconds then lower and repeat 10 times. This will work all of the core muscles as well as your glutes and hamstrings.
If you performs all of these 2-3 times per week them you will have worked every major muscle in your body. Ensuring you strengthen your major muscles will help take the pressure off your back which always a good thing even if you do not currently suffer from a back. The stronger the surrounding muscles the more work they will do to take the strain off the weakened areas of the body.
One exercise that I would recommend avoiding is the basic Ab crunch or sit up. These are one of the worst exercises performed for causing muscle imbalances and yielding no results for the all elusive six pack or general flat stomach. Better alternatives are the plank and bridge as mentioned in the program above which not only pull the core area in tight but help strengthen the back and release pressure.
It is then ideal to then loosen up the muscles again with a slower walk on the spot and slower movements as performed in the warm up, then stretch each major muscle group of the body, again a quick search of the internet will show you how or ask you gym instructor.
Good luck and here’s to a lifetime of pain free backs and strong bodies.