Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Creating a Strong, Healthy and Pain-Free Back

Creating and maintaining a strong, healthy and pain-free back is crucial to living a happy and active lifestyle.  Carrying bags and babies can lead to back pain and or back spasms.  When pain hits, get moving instead of lying down, doctors say.  You want to loosen the tight muscle and bring blood flow to the area.

Before you give your back a workout, get your muscles primed and your heart pumping with a good warm-up.  Do the following kickboxing inspired move for a total of 2 minutes.  Uppercut:  Take a wide stance with feet hip width apart and knees slightly bent. Make a fist with your left hand and hold it up, as if protecting your face. Shift weight from one leg to the other while making a punching motion with the right hand, sweeping from waist to chin level. Imagine hitting an opponent in the chin. Continue the motion for one minute or so, then switch to punching with your left hand.  

            These three exercises will help ease back problems, maintain your already healthy back or get you where you want to be. 

            1. Superman on Stability Ball works the mid and lower back.  Lie facedown on a stability ball, positioning it in the middle of your stomach, with your feet on the floor.  Extend arms straight out in front of you from the shoulders.  Contract abs to support the back, and look down at the floor to keep your neck aligned with your spine.  Exhale as you lift your arms two to sic inches higher than your head.  Hold for five seconds.  Inhale as you lower your arms to the starting position.  Note: If you’re a beginner or have a previous back injury, do this move on the floor without the ball, raising one arm and its opposite leg for five seconds.     

            2.  Seated Row works the upper back and shoulders.  Wrap a resistance band around a pole or secured table leg about chest height as you’re seated on the floor.  Sit with legs straight out in front of you, knees slightly bent, back straight, shoulder blades pulled back, chest out.  Grab one end of the band in each hand, palms facing each other.  Hold the back at chest height, and contract abs to keep back straight.  Exhale as you pull the handles toward your chest, keeping your forearms parallel to the floor.  To get that good squeeze, imagine that you’re holding a pencil between your shoulder blades.  Inhale as you slowly straighten your arms, making sure your elbows don’t lock.  Note:  As your strength increases and this move becomes easier, wrap more of the band around the pole or table leg to increase resistance. 

            3.  Sunrise works upper back.  Lie with you upper back supported on a stability ball, knees bent and feet flat on the floor.  Hold the end of the dumbbell that weighs between two and ten pounds, gripping it in both hands with fingers interlaced.  Keep abs contracted and back straight.  Straighten arms and hold dumbbell above your face with elbows slightly bent.  Inhale, and with arms still straight, lower the weight behind your head until your biceps are near your ears.  Exhale as you lift the weight back to starting position. 

             Stretching is just as important for the back as is working it out.  Cobra is a yoga-inspired stretch that works the entire spine.  Lie on the floor on your stomach, keeping elbows and palms on the floor.  Keep shoulder blades back and down while you raise your head to look forward.  More advanced exercisers will want to push to their forearms and palms against the floor as they exhale to increase the stretch.  Hold this position for 30 seconds.  Repeat three times.


p.s. I'm sorry  I haven't posted much in the past month but our family has be going through a HUGE transition.  Stay tuned for the details. : )  Let me just say this-  God is Good!