CT’s #1 Personal Trainer’s tackle a part of the body that majority of the population have issues with!
Imagine your sitting in your chair for 8 hours at work typing away at the keyboard. Everything seem’s fine, and then you get up so awkwardly and a soreness from your back arises. This has been the 3rd day in a row you have been experiencing this pain, and do not know what is wrong! Even in just those few sentences some of us could probably pin-point one of the issues to back pain. Even though there are millions of other scenarios that we could go over, at one point or another we have experienced back pain. Why though? Well due to an increase in a sedentary lifestyle our bodies are becoming weaker over-time. Low back pain is the single leading cause of disability worldwide, according to the Global Burden of Disease 2010. Also, back pain is one of the most common reasons for missed work. In fact, back pain is the second most common reason for visits to the doctor’s office, and outnumbered only by upper-respiratory infections. So as individuals we have to take care of our backs a little bit more than we should. Let’s dive in to this mystery and hope to help curb this issue!
So as fitness professionals we love to help with this issue, as we deal with it majority of the time.
Let us start with some simple stretches to begin! Remember to always warm-up a little before stretching, never stretch a cold body!
Knee to Chest
Use this stretch to align pelvis and stretch lower back and rear end muscles. Lie flat on your back with toes pointed to the sky. Slowly bend your right knee and pull your leg up to you chest. Wrap your arms around your thigh, knee or shin, and gently pull the knee towards your chest. Hold for 20 seconds and slowly extend the leg to starting position. Repeat three times each leg.
Lying Knee Twist
Use this movement to stretch the paraspinal muscles and strengthen the abdominal muscles. Lie on your back with your legs extended straight out. Bend the right knee up and cross it over the left side of your body. Hold in a position that allows you to feel a gentle stretch through the back and buttocks muscles for 20 seconds. Tighten your core muscles and rotate back to center. Repeat three times on each side.
Start this more by kneeling on all fours with your hands beneath your shoulders and your knees directly below your hips. Exhale and gently arch your spine. Inhale, tighten your core muscles and round your back, like a cat. Move slowly between movements and hold in each position for 5-10 seconds. Repeat 10 times.
Piriformis Seated Stretch
This stretch is designed to help lengthen the piriformis muscle over time. This muscle is often the source of sciatica, or radiating leg pain. Sitting with a straight back, cross your left leg over your right leg placing your foot next to your thigh and tuck your right leg in towards your buttocks. Place your right arm on your leg as pictured and slowly ease into a stretch. Be sure to keep your back straight and chest lifted. Hold for 20 seconds and alternative sides, three times.
This movement is helpful to stretch tight abdominal muscles and the lower back. Start by lying on your stomach with your legs extended and with palms planted on either side of your head with your forearms and elbows flat on the ground. Slowly, push your body upwards, so your weight is resting on your forearms. Be sure to keep your hips on the ground. Once you reach a comfortable position that gently stretches your abdominal muscles and lower back, hold for 10 seconds. Slowly return to starting position and repeat five times. If you have more flexibility in your lower back, try straightening your arms.
A common pose in yoga, the restful child’s pose can help you relax your body. Position yourself on the floor on hands and knees with your knees just wider than hip distance apart. Turn your toes in to touch and push your hips backwards bending your knees. Once you reach a comfortable seated position, extend your arms forward fully and allow your head to fall forward into a relaxation position. Hold this pose for 20 seconds and slowly return to starting position. Repeat three times. For modification if you have shoulder pain, place your arms on either side of your body, extending towards your feet.
Now that we have covered stretching, we will need to add some strengthening to the mix!
Some exercises can aggravate back pain and should be avoided when you have acute low back pain. Partial crunches can help strengthen your back and stomach muscles. Lie with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Cross arms over your chest or put hands behind your neck. Tighten stomach muscles and raise your shoulders off the floor. Breathe out as you raise your shoulders. Don’t lead with your elbows or use arms to pull your neck off the floor. Hold for a second, then slowly lower back down. Repeat 8 to 12 times. Proper form prevents excessive stress on your low back. Your feet, tailbone, and lower back should remain in contact with the mat at all times.
Lie on your stomach with your hands under your shoulders. Push with your hands so your shoulders begin to lift off the floor. If it’s comfortable for you, put your elbows on the floor directly under your shoulders and hold this position for several seconds.
Start on your hands and knees, and tighten your stomach muscles. Lift and extend one leg behind you. Keep hips level. Hold for 5 seconds, and then switch to the other leg. Repeat 8 to 12 times for each leg, and try to lengthen the time you hold each lift. Try lifting and extending your opposite arm for each repetition. This exercise is a great way to learn how to stabilize the low back during movement of the arms and legs. While doing this exercise don’t let the lower back muscles sag. Only raise the limbs to heights where the low back position can be maintained.
Lie on your back with knees bent and just your heels on the floor. Push your heels into the floor, squeeze your buttocks, and lift your hips off the floor until shoulders, hips, and knees are in a straight line. Hold about 6 seconds, and then slowly lower hips to the floor and rest for 10 seconds. Repeat 8 to 12 times. Avoid arching your lower back as your hips move upward. Avoid overarching by tightening your abdominal muscles prior and throughout the lift.
Lie on your stomach with your arms extended out in front of you and your legs long. Lift your hands and feet off the ground approximately 6 inches, or until you feel a contraction in your lower back. Engage your core muscles by slightly lifting your belly button off the floor. Reach away with your hands and feet. Be sure to look at the floor during this exercise to avoid neck strain. Hold for 2 seconds. Return to starting position. Repeat 10 times.
As being apart of CT’s #1 Personal Trainer’s this list of exercise and stretches combined can help with most cases of back pain, but will need to be done over a period of time to see results! But you shouldn’t be the individual in the first scenario and have a healthy back!
Cameron is a leading success coach and personal trainer at Horizon Personal Training in CT. Cameron is a NASM Certified Personal Trainer and keeps up to date on the latest fitness trends to ensure success within one’s self! To learn more about Cameron please go to www.horizonpersonaltraining.com.