The exercises outlined in the OSH Answers document Exercises for a Healthy Back should be sufficient to maintain your back fit and pain-free if done frequently and complemented by such aerobic activity as walking (see the OSH Answers document Walking - Still Man's Best Medicine). This obviously depends on there being no mishaps, accidents, or severe injuries to you. However, other people might want to intensify their fitness training, either due to the increased physical demands of their professions or just out of a desire to challenge themselves. If so, before you set realistic goals and means to achieve them, we advise that you speak with your doctor and perhaps a fitness professional. Based on the idea of ""sparing the back,"" as detailed in Exercising for a Healthy Back, we'll offer more exercises in this article, not just for the back but also for the hips, knees, and neck. The idea of exercising with the back protected, as well as the exercises in this document, are taken from Stuart McGill's Low Back Disorder, Evidence-Based Prevention and Rehabilitation (Human Kinetics, 2002), a book written by a renowned lecturer and specialist in spine function, injury prevention, and rehabilitation at the University of Waterloo in Ontario.
Why is it important to stretch before working out your back muscles?
Stretching calms the mind and aligns the body. Stretching, when done correctly, helps to relieve muscle tension, enhances body awareness, and multiplies the positive effects of the subsequent back exercises. Stretching properly entails making slow, continuous movements while keeping your attention on the muscle that needs to be stretched. Avoid jumping up and down, making abrupt movements, or pushing muscles till they hurt while stretching.
How can the hips and legs be stretched?
Leg stretches are the first stretching exercise.
The muscles in the thighs and lower legs as well as joints like the hips, knees, and ankles are all stretched during this exercise. The Right Method Image 1A With your left leg, lunge. Keep your left foot firmly planted on the ground, and keep your spine straight. Retain flexion in the rear knee. Keep the lumbar spine neutral and the torso upright. For around 10 seconds, hold this position while slowly deepening the lunge and keeping your torso erect. Repeat the exercise with different legs. The Wrong Method Image 1B Avoid: extending the hind leg straight. In order to support your upper body, place your hand on your knee. backward bending or twisting Exercise No. 2: Knee stretches Image 2A Image 2B Standing next to a sturdy chair or something you can grip onto will help you stay balanced. Grab the ankle with your other hand while bending your opposite knee. Pull up the ankle while attempting to touch the same side of your buttock. Hold on to this posture for five to ten seconds. Slowly lower your foot to the ground after releasing your hold on it gently. During the entire stretch, keep the knee stationary. Repeat the exercise on the other leg after switching sides. Use an exercise strap or a strap made out of a belt or scarf if you are unable to bend your knee high enough to grasp the ankle without bending and twisting your entire body, as shown in Figure 2B. You ought to be able to perform it without the exercise strap after a few tries.
How can you strengthen the neck muscles?
Curl-ups, which increase the endurance of your abdominal muscles, are made simpler and more efficient by exercises that can strengthen your neck muscles. Third exercise — extending the neck Exercises should be performed while seated and with your feet firmly on the ground. Throughout the entire workout, keep your neck and head still. Put your tongue behind your front teeth on the roof of your mouth. Image 3A Put your hands on your forehead and push backwards without allowing your head or neck to move. For 5 to 7 seconds, maintain this isometric position before relaxing. Up to 5 times should be added to this workout. Image 3B Put your palm on your temple and press sideways, trying to avoid moving your head or neck at all. For 5 to 7 seconds, maintain this isometric position before relaxing. Up to 5 times should be added to this workout. Change hands and resist the urge to move your head to the opposite side. Image 3C Push forward while keeping your head and neck still by placing your hands on the back of your head and doing so. For 5 to 7 seconds, maintain this isometric position before relaxing. Up to 5 times should be added to this workout.
How can you improve fitness and stability in the spine?
The way to improve and maintain spinal stability is to exercise the spine's major stabilizing muscles: Back extensors. Abdominal muscles (the so-called """"six pack""""). Abdominal muscles (the lateral obliques). Exercise all these muscles in a special way - by """"sparing the back"""" which means to perform all exercises with the spine in a line with no additional load. Starting an exercise session Every session should begin with the """"Cat-Camel"""" exercises -- see Figures 4A, 4B, and 4C. Exercise # 4 -- """"Cat-Camel"""" Figure 4A Figure 4B Figure 4C Start on your hands and knees with your thighs perpendicular to the floor as in Figure 4A. Inhale deeply and slowly with the back straight but relaxed as much as possible. Exhale and stretch your back by arching it upwards (arching cat position), while remaining relaxed; do not hold your breath as in Figure 4B. Inhale deeply and slowly and come back to the starting position, as in Figure 4A. Exhale and stretch your back downwards into a swayback (camel) position as in Figure 4C. Inhale deeply and slowly and come back to the starting position, as in Figure 4A. Repeat the whole sequence 3 to 7 times -- see Figures 4A, 4B, and 4C. Advanced exercises for the back extensors Exercise #5 -- The waiter's bow Figure 5 Stand straight and relaxed, but not rigid, with head up and shoulders back and relaxed. Breathe in and relax, then breathe out, and as you breathe out pull your stomach muscles in. While keeping your stomach in, lean forward from the hips at an angle of about 20 degrees and stoop in a position like a """"waiters' bow""""; keep your back straight for as long as you lean over. Hold this bowing position for up to 10 seconds. While keeping the stomach in and keeping your back straight, return to the starting position. Repeat this sequence up to 10 times. Exercise #6 -- Advanced Bird-dog If you have mastered the beginner and intermediate versions of the """"bird-dog"""" exercise illustrated in the OSH Answers document Exercises for a Healthy Back, you can attempt its advanced form. Figure 6A Figure 6B Figure 6C Figure 6D Figure 6E While on all fours, and without losing your balance, raise your leg by pushing it straight backwards, and raise the opposite arm in front of you, until it is also parallel to the floor and pointing ahead of you. Hold this position while slowly exhaling for 2 to 3 seconds -- see Figure 4. Inhale while returning your arm and leg to the floor without putting weight on them, then extend them again -- see Figures 6A, 6B, 6C, 6D and 6E. Repeat this sequence 5 to 7 times. Alternate leg and arm and repeat the whole exercise.
How do you exercise the abdominal muscles?
Exercise # 7 -- Abdominal hollowing
This exercise is fundamental for both conditioning abdominal muscles and for maintaining the stability of the spine. Figure 7 Lie on your back with your knees bent. Keep your spine in neutral position, neither arched up nor flattened against the floor. Inhale deeply and relax your stomach. Exhale slowly pulling your lower abdomen inwards toward the floor. Continuing regular breathing and hold the tension for 10 seconds. Repeat this maneuver up to 10 times. For a greater challenge try raising your head and shoulders while pulling in your abdominal muscles. For more variety you can try abdominal hollowing while in a standing or sitting position. Exercise # 8 -- Curl-up with bent knees Figure 8 Lie on your back with your knees bent. Keep your spine in neutral position, neither arched up nor flattened against the floor. Inhale deeply and relax your stomach. Exhale slowly pulling your lower abdomen inwards toward the floor. Continuing regular breathing and hold the tension for 10 seconds while raising the head and shoulders -- try to raise your head without bending the neck. Repeat this maneuver up to 10 times. Exercise # 9 -- Curl-up with straight knees Figure 9 This exercise is just a version of exercise #8 to be performed at your discretion, instead of or in addition to exercise #8. Curl-ups on unstable surfaces such as a fitness ball or balance disk Advisory! Since exercising on unstable surfaces, especially on a gym ball, involves an increased risk of falling and potential injury, we recommend that you practice them with the assistance of a spotter or exercise partner who can better ensure your safety. Curl-ups on unstable surfaces require substantially greater effort and are recommended only for people of above-average fitness. Exercise # 10 -- Curl-ups on a balance disk Figure 10 Since exercising while supporting your upper body on a gym ball or a balance disk does not give you the opportunity to rest your head on the floor it is critical to make an extra effort to keep your spine level -- do not allow your head to drop below an imaginary horizontal line at any time during these exercises. Exercise # 11 -- Curl-ups on a gym ball IFigure 11A Figure 11B Starting position -- see Figure 11A From the starting position raise your head and shoulders without bending the neck -- see Figure 11B. Exercise # 12 -- Curl-ups on a gym ball II Figure 12A Figure 12B Starting position -- see Figure 12A. From the starting position raise your head and shoulders without bending the neck -- see Figure 12B.
Are there any advanced exercises for lateral and oblique abdominal and lumbar muscles?
Exercise # 13 -- Side-bridge advanced
Figure 13A Figure 13B Figure 13C Figure 13D Starting position -- see Figure 13A. From the starting position roll over on your elbows -- see Figures 13B, 13C -- until you acquire a position that is the mirror image of the starting one -- see Figure 13D."""