5 Lower Back Stretches That Can Relieve Pain, Build Strength, And Improve Flexibility

<5 Lower Back Stretches That Can Relieve Pain, Build Strength, And Improve Flexibility>

Abs might get more attention, but maintaining a strong back is just as important as developing tight abdominal muscles. Not only do strong back muscles help support your spine, they can also reduce your risk of poor posture and back pain.

When you have weak back muscles you end up using other muscles for support, which can lead to fatigue and frequent aches and pains.

Strong back muscles, on the other hand, offer better upper-body support and also decrease stiffness, improve mobility, and boost overall comfort, says Rahul Shah, MD, a board-certified orthopedic spine and neck surgeon at Premier Orthopedic Associates.

Here are 10 back-strengthening exercises that can benefit anyone, from experienced athletes to those with a desk job and more sedentary lifestyle. Just remember to always start slow and listen to your body — If you have discomfort that lasts more than 24 hours, it's best to slow down.

1. Hip bridges

Bridges help strengthen your lower back along with your buttock muscles. No equipment necessary for this one.

How to do it:

  1. Lie down on your back, keeping your arms at your sides.
  2. Bend your knees with your feet flat on the floor.
  3. Tighten your abs and glutes and lift your pelvis upward. Make sure to keep your body in a straight line.
  4. Hold the bridge position for 15 seconds.
  5. Slowly release and return your body back to the floor.
  6. Repeat for a total of 5 repetitions.

How often to do it: Start by doing these 2 to 3 times a week. Check out this video from Massachusetts General Hospital for tips on proper form.

2. Seated rows

This exercise works your upper back along with your arms, including your lats and biceps. For this exercise, you can use a pulley cable machine or grab a set of resistance bands.

How to do it:

  1. Put your feet on the floor with your knees bent, keeping your back straight.
  2. Grab the pulley machine handles or anchored resistance bands and slowly pull them towards you, keeping your elbows close to your body.
  3. When the handle or band touches your stomach, pause, then slowly return your arms to a straight position.

Quick tip: Because this exercise involves resistance, you will need to adjust the number of repetitions depending on the resistance level and your fitness ability. Aim to do at least 10-15 repetitions. At the end of the set, you should feel the need to rest.

How often to do it: Include this exercise twice a week as part of a strength training plan. Check out this video from Synergy Fitness for guidance on proper form.

3. Supermans

Work your lower back with this floor exercise. Supermans also work other muscles in your core, which can help limit strain and reduce lower back pain. No equipment necessary.

How to do it:

  1. Lie down on the floor on your stomach and extend your arms in front of you.
  2. As you slowly lift your arms and legs off the floor, squeeze your glutes, tighten your abs, and flex the muscles in your shoulder blades.
  3. Hold the position for about 3 seconds, making sure to breathe in and out.
  4. Slowly release and lower your arms and legs to the floor.
  5. Repeat 8 times.

Quick tip: Keep your spine in a neutral position and avoid craning your neck to look up while doing this exercise.

How often to do it: Start by doing these 2 to 3 times a week. You can eventually increase the frequency as you build your fitness. Check out this BioSpine Institute video for guidance on form.

4. Shoulder blade squeeze

Strengthen your upper back with this easy-to-do movement that's equipment-free.

How to do it:

  1. Stand up straight, without slouching.
  2. Squeeze your shoulder blades together, holding for a few seconds.
  3. Release slowly and relax your shoulder blades.
  4. Repeat 8-12 times.

How often to do it: Start by performing this movement about 2 to 3 times a week. See this video from the Mid-Columbia Medical Center for a visual demonstration of this exercise.

5. Planks

Strengthen your middle and lower back with this exercise. You'll also strengthen your buttocks and abs in the plank position. No equipment needed.

How to do it:

  1. Lie down on your stomach, keeping your elbows right below your shoulders.
  2. Lift your hips and knees off the floor while keeping your abs tight and squeezing your glutes.
  3. Keep your back straight and hold the plank for at least 30 seconds.
  4. Slowly lower your body back to the mat.
  5. Rest and repeat 5 more times.

Quick tip: As your strength increases, try to hold the plank position for longer to challenge yourself or try more difficult positions like side plank, plank jacks, or planks with a hip twist.

How often to do it: Get in plank position between 2 to 3 times a week and increase frequency as you get stronger. See this video from Nicklaus Children's Hospital for how to do a plank exercise and common mistakes to avoid.

6. Bird dogs

This functional strength exercise works the muscles in your glutes (the muscles in your butt) and lower back. No equipment necessary.

How to do it:

  1. Get in a tabletop position, making sure your hands and knees are aligned with your shoulders and hips.
  2. Contract your abdominal muscles and put one arm out in front of your body, keeping it at shoulder height.
  3. Lift and extend the leg opposite your outstretched arm straight out behind you.
  4. Squeeze your glute and thigh muscles and keep your arm and leg extended for 15 seconds.
  5. Return to tabletop position and repeat with the opposite arm and leg.
  6. Do 5 repetitions on each side.

How often to do it: Perform this exercise 2 to 3 times a week. Watch this video demonstration from personal trainer Luke Sniewski to review how it's done.

7. Reverse flys

This exercise targets the muscles in your upper back and shoulders and will usually require some dumbbells or resistance bands.

How to do it:

  1. Sit down with your knees bent with a dumbbell in each hand.
  2. Lean your body forward with your arms hanging down by your legs. Your elbows should be slightly bent.
  3. Slowly lift the weights until your arms are parallel with your shoulders. Make sure not to arch your back.
  4. Slowly lower the weights back down.
  5. Repeat 12 to 15 times.

Quick tip: Reverse flys typically involve a set of dumbbells, but if you're very new to strengthening exercises, you can start without any resistance.

How often to do it: Do this weighted exercise twice a week as part of a strength training routine. And check out this BPI Sports video before grabbing a set of dumbbells.

8. Kettlebell swings

Many kettlebell exercises can help strengthen the back, but this foundational movement is a good place to start if you're new to this piece of exercise equipment.

How to do it:

  1. Stand straight with your feet shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent.
  2. Hold the kettlebell with both hands by the handle.
  3. Get into a squat position, keeping your back straight.
  4. Swing the kettlebell forward by lifting your chest and thrusting your hips.
  5. Return to your starting position.
  6. Perform 10 reps total.

How often to do it: Include this exercise as part of a twice-weekly strength training regimen. See this video from athlete coach PJ Nestler for tips on getting the movement right.

9. Good mornings

You can perform this lower-back-strengthening exercise with or without a weighted barbell. Good mornings also strengthen the hamstrings, the muscles on the backs of your thighs.

How to do it:

  1. Stand with your knees slightly bent and your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. If using a weight, place the barbells on your shoulders.
  3. Hinge forward at the hips, folding your body so that it's parallel to the floor.
  4. Return to the starting position.
  5. Repeat 10-12 times.

How often to do it: Add this movement to a twice-a-week strength training routine. Watch this CrossFit video to see some helpful form tips.

10. Diagonal chops

The diagonal chop or woodchop exercise is a great functional strength exercise that helps promote stability and prevent injury. No equipment necessary for this one.

How to do it:

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent.
  2. Grasp your hands together, straighten your arms, and rotate your body to the left side.
  3. Reach upward towards the right side, rotating your torso.
  4. Reach back to your left side, performing a diagonal chopping motion with your arms.
  5. Repeat 10-12 times on each side.

How often to do it: Do this exercise 2 to 3 times a week. Need a visual demonstration? Check out this video from JAX VIP Transformations.

Insider's takeaway

The sooner you start a back strengthening routine, the better.

"Strong back muscles are vital for all walks of life at every stage of adult development," says Jamie Costello, a certified personal trainer and VP Sales & Fitness at Pritikin Longevity Center.

He adds that it's essential to check with a doctor before starting a completely new exercise regimen. When trying a new type of movement or exercise for the first time, it also never hurts to consider working with a professional who can help you develop a plan that aligns with your needs and fitness level.

Source : https://www.msn.com/en-in/news/science/10-exercises-to-help-strengthen-your-back-and-improve-posture/ar-AASZ9Vp

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