Back pain & bad posture is a pretty common problem for many people. Fortunately, good back health is possible with back strengthening exercises & stretches that make it easier to maintain good posture. Why is good posture so important?
Consider the effects of bad posture:
- Slouching affects your confidence and ability to mentally & physically perform well
- Bad posture can raise blood pressure due to a direct neural link between the neck muscles & brain stem
- Slumping also causes your inner organs to be squished and isn’t very good for digestion
- It causes shallow chest breathing, which is taxing on the heart & lungs, and triggers a stress response by the body.
Strong back muscles will help you maintain good back posture with ease, so here are some back exercises & stretches.
Back Exercises for Strength:
- Lay flat on your stomach with your arms & legs fully extended
- Engage your core & back muscles to lift your arms & legs off the ground, and “float” them, balancing only on your torso
- Return arms & legs to the ground, then repeat. Make the exercise more difficult by holding weights in your hands
Medium: Back extensions
- These are most often performed on the Roman Chair & look like a reverse sit-up
- Position yourself facing forward in the Roman Chair, looking down at the floor, hands behind your head
- Engage your core & back muscles, and keep your back straight & tight as you bend at the hips to lower your torso down towards the ground, then back up
- This is a full-body exercise, but works to immensely strengthen the back muscles
- With either a barbell or pair of dumbbells on the ground, bend down at the knees to grip the weight
- Like a squat, you want to keep your back straight, knees behind toes, and head up
- Stand up using the legs & hips, meaning your back should never cave forward or slouch but remain tight as you straighten up
- Bend forward at the knees and hips again to place the weight back on the ground. Never ever let your back curve.
Back Stretches for Recovery:
Starting from a forward bend, bend your knees so that your palms are flat on the floor (if they aren’t already). Shift your weight so that your arms help support you as you hop or walk your legs back. Your hips should be the middle point between your hands and feet on the floor. Use your hands to push your body back towards your heels until you feel a stretch throughout your back and legs
On all fours, arch your back upwards to “cat” pose, letting your head relax downwards. Then let your back curve downwards and look upwards in “cow” pose. Breathe deeply as you move back and forth between cat and cow poses.
Sit with your knees slightly apart and folded underneath your body, then lean forward to rest your forehead on the ground. Rest with your arms by your sides, or increase the stretch by reaching your arms forward.
Lay on your back and bring your knees into your chest. Grab the inside of your feet with your hands, and bring your feet up and to the side to a comfortable spot.