Don’t overlook back strength when you start an exercise regimen. While flexibility is important, back strength helps you maintain your overall health and well-being. Your spine supports your neck and spinal column. When you have weak back muscles, you limit your range of motion and can develop sprains or muscle spasms. Over time, these aches and pains can turn chronic, affecting the way you function in your daily life.
At the Southeastern Spine Institute near Charleston, SC, spine specialists help you understand how your back works and why strengthening your back muscles improves your back health. At least 50 to 80 percent of Americans develop back problems, and most of these issues are due to a sedentary lifestyle. To prevent spine problems and recover from back procedures, build your back strength first — flexibility can then follow much more safely.
How Does a Health Back Work?
Your back is composed of small bones, discs and joints that give you the flexibility to bend and twist. But it’s your back muscles that provide your body the mobility to move and stand up straight. If your muscles are tight, you get a stretched rubber band effect that can damage the elastic nature of the muscles and tendons. You also tend to put more stress on your hips and legs when you experience back pain, which can develop into more serious problems.
Controlled exercises that concentrate on the abdominal and back muscles help you to regain your back health. If you’re overweight, your spine specialist may suggest consulting a dietician to help shed the extra pounds, especially around the belly and abdominal region that puts added pressure on your spine and hips. With good back health, you also get:
- Improved posture
- Reduced or no back pain
- Secure stability
- Increased flexibility
- A stronger core
What Are Good Exercises for Back Strength?
Four out of five people in the U.S. complain of lower back pain. In fact, back pain is the leading cause of Americans missing work. Developing your back strength to reduce or eliminate lower back pain, however, is a fairly simple process. You just need to develop a mindset that these exercises are important enough to do regularly for your back health.
Your spine specialist and physical therapist can create customized exercise regimens that focus on giving your back strength, flexibility and stability. For people who lead a sedentary lifestyle, you may need to start with easy exercises like:
- Back bridge. Lie on your back with your hips and knees bent. Lift your back, straightening your torso from your shoulders to your knees. Hold for a few seconds, then lower your back to the floor and repeat. This exercise strengthens hip and lower back muscles.
- Modified abdominal crunch. Lie on your back and pull your knees to your chest, while tightening pull your abdominal muscles and controlling your breathing.
- Supine twist. Lie on your back, keeping your hips and knees at 90 degrees. Slowly twist your lower body to one side and then to the opposite side, back and forth 10 times on each side.
- Bridging on elbows. Lie on your stomach with your elbows bent beside your body. Slowly lift yourself, resting on your forearms and toes. This is similar to a plank exercise, except you keep your stomach on the floor. It’s less harsh on your back.