Have you ever experienced back pain in your lifetime that prevented you from daily activities? You’re not alone! Did you know that low back pain is the single leading cause of disability worldwide and that experts estimate that 80 percent of the population will experience back pain at some point in their lives? Despite back pain being so prevalent, it is not something that is inevitable.
Preventative exercises for back health in is one of the best ways to decrease your chances of dealing with back problems over the long haul! Increasing core strength and flexibility are some of the easiest and most commonly overlooked methods of protecting your back along with correcting posture. Simple functional exercises can really help develop a strong and stable core. Here are 3 of my favorite functional exercises:
1. Cobra Pose
Equipment needed: Mat or a stretching table
For this exercise, what we are trying to do is decrease stiffness in our lower back as well as regain our lumbar curve. We will start in a prone position lying on our stomach and place our hands directly outside of our chest. We will then start to press through our palms and elevate our chest from the ground leaving our hips on the ground. You will come up as high as comfortably possible, and hold at the top for a count of 5 seconds, then slowly lower yourself back to the starting position and repeat. For starters, try 3 sets of 8-10 repetitions.
2. Standing Cable Rotation
Equipment needed: Cable machine or bands
This exercise starts by adjusting the cable machine arm to the appropriate height, which will be so it is parallel with the ground, or at about chest height. Once the machine is set, adjust the weight to a light to moderate weight (between 7-13 lbs) and grab with both hands and step away so the weight is pulled off of the stack. From there, maintain a tall spine and extend the arms to full extension and unlock the knees just slightly. While your arms remain straight, rotate away from the machine until you are facing away from it and then slowly rotate your upper body back to the start position and repeat. Start with 3 sets of 8-10 repetitions on each side.
3. Cheerleader Pull Apart
Equipment needed: Resistance bands
We will be focusing on strengthening the thoracic portion of our back and correcting poor posture. Start by grabbing the band about shoulder width apart and bringing you arms up the shoulder height. While keeping the arms straight, pull your hands apart until your body forms a “T” shape. During the pull apart, it is very important to squeeze the shoulder blades together and have your shoulders down away from the ears. Slowly return to start position, while keeping tension on the band throughout the movement. Start with 3 sets of 10-12 repetitions.
Try these exercises 2-3 days a week to help ensure a strong stable core. To further your progress, there are multiple in-house avenues to take, such as personal training, TribeCORE, Pilates and yoga, among many others! If you’re unsure on where to start, contact a wellness coach today!