Imagine a virus going around that causes pain, and stops you from driving, picking up your toddler, shopping for groceries, and exercising.
Now imagine a medicine that prevents this virus. You would take it, right?
This pretend “virus” is back injury. It is real and happens to people every day when they trip and try to catch their balance, roll out of bed, bend over to pick up a bag, take a kickboxing class, or perform a dead lift. The medicine I prescribe to avoid “catching” the virus is a few exercises for the upper and lower back. I will explain two easy ones here today.
Lower for Living:
Strengthening your lower back muscles is important for people who don’t exercise on a regular basis, but equally as important for those who do exercise but overlook the lower back. If you have a bad lower back, you can’t do those crunches, bicep curls, lunges or daily living activities.
Upper for Posture:
The upper back exercises are important as well, especially if you sit at a computer or hunched over a desk much of the time. It is equally important if your exercise routine includes pushups and bench presses but not working the opposite muscle group – the trapezius and rhomboids. Hunched posture can cause painful knots and strains, chiropractor bills and give the wrong first impression.
Airplane – This exercise will work but upper and lower back. The airplane (pictured below) is performed by lying on your stomach with arms extended out to the sides at shoulder level.
1) Lift your head, chest, arms, knees and feet off the floor, leaving just your torso on the mat. It is also important to keep looking at the floor, not cranking your head up to look at the wall in front of you. Keeping your gaze on the floor keeps the neck in line with the spine. Hold for 3 seconds and release. Repeat 10 times.
2) Next, speed up the move to 15 faster singles, not pausing at the top.
3) Finally, hold the arms, legs and chest up to the top of the move keep the legs and chest lifted, and “flap your wings” by moving the hands up and down for 10 repetitions. As a bonus, this exercise also tones your tush!
Stretch – That completes one set. When done with each set, do a cat stretch on all fours and drop the head while rounding the back up to the ceiling.
Balance Reach – To perform the balance reach (pictured below) stay on all fours on hands and knees.
Keep looking at the floor as you reach your left leg up and straight behind you, as you lift your right arm straight in front of you. Hold the leg and arm up for a count of 3 and release. Straighten and lift your right leg and light arm simultaneously, hold for 3 and release to complete one repetition. Continue to gaze at the floor throughout the move. Do 10 reps for one set and finish with a cat stretch.
Back it Up
Before I became a trainer I didn’t realize the importance of working my back as much as working my abs. I ask you to add these moves to each workout you do. In the future I will do a column on more challenging back exercises like wheel pushups, stability ball back extensions and airplane supermans, but for now I put these exercises and others on my DVDs to help others from falling prey to a back injury.
So take this advice from someone who went through a back injury and could not do normal daily tasks… and take your medicine.
Fitness – Fit it in!