Spine Strength Do’s and Don’ts
Do’s and Don’ts
Strengthening the muscles in your core and back is one of the most effective ways to reduce your back pain. However, these same techniques can contribute to your discomfort if done incorrectly.
When people think of building strength, they often think of weightlifting. Weightlifting is a great way to boost your fitness, but it can also increase your back pain. Basically, weightlifting is about lifting heavy objects. If done incorrectly or with improper form, this will do serious damage to your spine. With that in mind, be smart about your fitness. When your lifting weights, use proper form and make sure to know your limits. Two popular exercises that are easy to do incorrectly are bent-rows and squats.
The bent-row is an awesome workout that builds muscle in your shoulders, biceps and upper back. Improper form with this motion will put pressure on your lower back. Make sure to hold your head up and keep your eyes forward. Tuck your hips and butt down so there’s a natural curve in your spine.
Squats are a terrific toner for your lower body. With proper form, it even engages your core muscles, which is important to avoid back strain. Keep your back straight instead of rounding your spine. This will help you avoid pressure and pain on your lower spine. Your weight should be held in the back of your heels, not the balls of your feet. Keep your knees behind your toes; they shouldn’t extend forward. The correct squat form might feel uncomfortable at first, but it’s worth the adjustment to avoid the back pain.
Next time you hit the gym, here are some other moves to avoid and exercises to try instead.
You might need to find a better way to get six-pack abs this summer. Sit-ups are one of the worst types of exercise for your back. The repetitive motion puts a lot of pressure on your lowers spine and neck. Spinal fractures have been reported from people who do lots of sit-ups without enough cushion underneath their spine.
Instead of sit-ups, try planks. Planks work your core muscles and can be easily adjusted with several variations to target specific areas.
While toe touches seem innocent enough, this exercise puts unnecessary strain on the disks and ligaments in your back. In some cases, the muscles in your lower back and hamstrings can become overstretched. The benefits for this movement aren’t worth the risk to your spine.
Instead of toe touches, try gentle hamstring stretches. Lie on your back with your knees bent. Slowly raise one leg at a time with your foot flexed.
The goal of this exercise is to strengthen your core, but it can cause a lot of pain for your lower back. Lying on your back and raising your legs adds a lot of strain to your spine.
Single leg raises are a better option for your back, or you can avoid the motion altogether. Skip the leg-lifts and try pikes with an exercise ball or try out the captain’s chair in your gym. With your back flat against the back of the chair, tuck your knees into your chest. If you’re lying on a bench or a cushioned mat, try lying hip raises. Press your legs together and raise them directly above your hips. From that position, slowly raise and lower your hips off of the ground.