Friday, 1 October 2010

General Back Exercises

Lower back complaint is a problem most people will experience at some point in their life. Some people suffer serious back pathologies like disk herniations and prolapses, although furtunately far more back complaints are due to muscle strains, tightness and muscle related pain. Anyone who has had back pain knows it inhibits you in your everyday life and can be very uncomfortable. A lot of the back problems can be reduced by making sure you have a strong back (and core-see a previous post on core training) which is why I will describe some very basic and simple back exercises that everyone can do in their own home, without needing much equipment. Before you start you should read the general guidelines. Good luck J

General guidelines

Type: Lower back exercises to strengthen the lower back
Purpose: To improve lower back strength

Suitable for: Everyone who wants to strengthen their lower back with some basic exercises

Equipment needed: Foam roller and exercise mat

Repetitions and sets:

3 sets per exercise

10 - 15 repetitions per exercise

90 – 120 seconds recovery between sets

The workout
1. Foam rolling - Lower back

• Start by laying on your back on the floor

• Place the foam roller under your lower back

• Place your hands behind your back to hold yourself off the floor (Picture 1)

• Now roll your back on the foam roller, from above your hip bones to mid part of your back (Picture 2)

• If you find a tender spot, apply a bit more pressure and roll back and forwards over the tight spot

• To increase the pressure further, lean over slightly to one side of your back and roll up and down

• Roll for 45 - 60 seconds on each side

2. The “swimming stroke”

• Start by laying on your front on the exercise mat

• Place your hands on either side of head, in line with your ears

• Lift your hands and upper body approximately 20 – 30 cm off the floor

• Keep your palms facing down and elbows to 90°

• Pull your arms back by squeezing your shoulder blades together  (Picture 1)

• Then straighten your arms in front of your head so your hands touches in front of you (Picture 2)

• Make sure your feet stays flat on the floor, and look down to relax your neck throughout the exercise

• Do 10-15 repetitions

3. Arm and leg extension on all fours
• Start on the exercise mat on all fours with your arms in line with your shoulders

• Pull your abdominals up towards the ceiling prior to starting this exercise

• Straighten opposite arm and leg

o Arm should be lifted just above shoulder height (straighten your arms forwards rather than up)

o Leg should be lifted till it is in line with your bottom

o Bend your arm and leg down at the same time, till you can touch your hand onto your knee and repeat

• Focus on keeping your abdominals tucked in and avoid rocking from side to side during this exercise

• Do 10-15 repetitions on opposite leg and arm and then change

4. Glut bridges

• Start by lying onto your back on the exercise mat (or on the floor) (Picture 1)

• Bend your knees by placing your heels in line with your knees (half a foot away from your bottom)

• Rest your arm by the side of your body

• Lift your hips up by squeezing your bottom till your back is straight (Picture 2)

• Hold this position for 3-5 seconds and lower your hips back down to the floor and repeat

5. Leg and arm raises

• Start by lying on your front on the exercise mat

• Place your arms straight above your head and legs hip width apart

• Lift opposite hand and leg about 30-40 cm off the floor at the same time
My leg is lifted too high off the floor on this picuture, so don't lift as high as I do here:)

• Try to reach forwards with your hands rather than lifting too high

• Keep facing down to relax your neck

• Do 10-15 repetitions on opposite leg and arm and then change

6. Core activation

• Start by lying on your back on the exercise mat

• Place your hands under each side of your lower back

• Pull your belly button down towards the floor and push your lower back down so your hands gets a firm squeeze

• Hold this position for 5-8 seconds, relax and repeat 15 repetitions

NB! Please be aware that isometric exercises can lead to an increase in blood pressure and may therefore not be suitable for people with hypotension

7. Front plank (isometric exercise)

• Start with your toes and elbows/forearms on the mat (Picture 1)

• Your toes should be placed shoulder width apart and your elbows shoulder be placed shoulder width apart in line with the top of your shoulders

• Make sure your abdominals are pulled and that hips are parallel to the floor throughout the exercise

• There is no movement during this exercise

• Hold the starting position between 20-40 seconds (without letting your hips drops or raise up)

• Relax between 120-180 seconds between your sets and repeat 3 times

Always warm up with 5 minutes of easy mobility movements such as side bends, upper back rotations, arms swings etc.
Always cool down after the workout with 5-10 minutes of stretching for the main muscles used in the work out. In particular your lower back and the side of your back. Hold each stretch for 20-30 seconds and do 2-3 sets of each stretch


MoTo :)