A simple complex for the back muscles, which can be performed at home.
Before discussing specific exercises, let’s figure out what a healthy spine is. This is a spine with evenly expressed physiological curves in the sagittal plane and straight in the frontal plane, surrounded by strong, developed muscles that actively contract and relax and provide nutrition to the intervertebral discs.
It is important to understand that with the help of exercises, it is impossible to correct large problems with the spine, such as severe scoliosis or hernia. But you can influence the muscles – superficial and deep – and thereby ensure the spine’s health, correct posture, and eliminate pain.
The main problems associated with spine and back muscles pain
The causes of back pain often lie in the improper use of the body. Because we sit a lot, carry a heavy bag on one shoulder, or spend a lot of time behind the wheel, some muscles are overloaded, while others receive less load. As a result, the former, over time, begin to stay in a constantly contracted and tense state, and the latter, in a constantly stretched and relaxed state. A relaxed state is good. But not in this case. The fact is that the normal functioning of the muscle consists of dynamic contraction and tension. A muscle that is chronically shortened or chronically stretched loses this ability.
Degenerative changes in the spine
Diseases such as osteochondrosis and herniated discs are familiar to many, even young people. Their treatment must be approached comprehensively, sometimes even resorting to surgery. But exercise can help slow down or prevent these diseases. Some reasons for their appearance are lack of movement and improper physical activity. Regular exercise will solve the problem of physical inactivity and help develop the right movement patterns that can be transferred to other physical activities and everyday life.
Another factor is the nutrition of the intervertebral discs. If they are not fed enough, they wear out faster. Intervertebral discs do not have blood vessels and are powered by diffusion, extracting nutrients from surrounding tissues. To enhance the nutrition of the disk, it is necessary to accelerate local blood flow, and the most effective means for this is physical activity.
Problems with internal organs
Everything in the body is interconnected, and significant curvature of the spine can affect the state of internal organs.
Poor posture (namely thoracic hyperkyphosis, i.e., excessive rounding of the thoracic spine) can prevent the lungs from expanding on inspiration, which means the body is not getting enough oxygen. The most optimal way the lungs function is when a person is standing; the least optimal – is when he sits with his back rounded. (Check if you are reading this article with your shoulders hunched forward?)
Other organs that suffer from poor posture are those of the digestive system. If a person is constantly hunched over, he reduces the space for internal organs, which can provoke, for example, heartburn and constipation, and generally impede the work of the gastrointestinal tract.
A set of exercises for everyday
In order for the back muscles to be healthy and functional, any complex should include relaxation and strengthening exercises. If you try to go straight to strengthening, chronically tense muscles will only hurt such a load, so it is important to find a balance. In this regard, yoga methods and the like are the best options since many yoga, yoga therapy, and Pilates exercises combine traction and strength training.
Knees to chest
Let’s start in the supine position. Pull your knees up to your chest and wrap your arms around them. Point your feet up and your chin slightly towards you – feel the spine is slightly stretched; the sensation should be pleasant. In this exercise, we primarily stretch and relax the lumbar region, but other parts of the spine and the entire back are also involved. You can gently rock to the right and left, massaging your back on the mat – choose a small amplitude and speed. Stay in this position for a minute or more.
Straighten your legs and stretch your arms behind your head: feet hip-width apart, palms shoulder-width apart. Socks look up, and the chin is directed towards itself. With an inhalation, stretch for the tips of the fingers in one direction and behind the feet in the other; imagine pushing an invisible wall with your feet, do not lift your heels off the floor. Relax with an exhale. Repeat several times. Then, stretch only the right side several times, relaxing the left, then stretch the left side, relaxing the right. Stretch your right arm and left leg. Left hand and right foot. Stretch your whole body again several times.
Raised Limb Cat
Place your feet on the floor, knees bent, and look up. From this position, roll onto your side and sit up. Then get on all fours: palms under the shoulders, knees under the pelvic bones, fingers spread out, middle ones looking forward. The stomach is slightly retracted, smoothing the lower back. The gaze is directed to the floor; the neck is extended.
Inhale as you lift your right arm and left leg while stretching yourself between your toes and toes. Try to bring the diagonal higher, but do not fail the stomach – during the entire exercise, the center should be strong. With an exhalation, lower your arm and leg, and raise your left and right leg. Change the diagonal for each breath, trying to breathe a little slower and deeper than usual and lingering at the top point for a couple of seconds each time. Do at least eight reps on each side.
This exercise helps strengthen and stretch the entire surface of the back and trains the coordination of the muscles of the back, the front surface of the body, and the limbs.
Remaining in the starting position on all fours, bend over as you inhale and look up. Try to connect the top of the head and tailbone through the top. Don’t dump your stomach. With an exhalation, round your back, bring your stomach as close to the spine as possible, and pull the crown and tailbone towards each other through the bottom.
Every time start the movement from the coccyx and do it as slowly as possible, trying to feel the movement of each vertebra. You may need more than one breath or exhalation for half a cycle – let there be more of them, but the deflection should always begin with an inhalation and round with an exhalation. Repeat the exercise 15-20 times. The classic cat works out the small muscles that surround the spine, helps to begin to feel them, and increases the overall flexibility of the back.
Static hyperextension on the floor
Sit on your stomach, place your feet hip-width apart, and place your palms under your shoulders. Twist the tailbone towards you, smoothing the lower back – the iliac bones should, as it were push the floor. With an inhalation, lift your upper body, trying to help yourself with your arms as little as possible and working primarily with your back muscles. The elbows are pressed to the body. Keep pushing your pelvis towards you. Lift your palms off the floor, bring them closer to your ears, and continue bringing your shoulder blades together. Hold this position for 20-30 seconds and slowly lower your body to the floor. Repeat the exercise 3-4 times.
Hyperextension works great on the lower back. If your lower back starts to hurt, check if you are pushing the pelvis towards you enough, slow down the number of approaches or do the following compensatory exercise in between them, which completes the whole complex.
Sit with your buttocks on your heels, connecting your big toes and spreading your knees slightly apart. With an inhalation, stretch your arms up; with an exhalation, lower your palms to the floor as far away from you as possible and bring your body closer to the floor (but do not tear your buttocks off your heels!). Forehead on the floor, neck relaxed. Palms shoulder-width apart, reach forward with your fingers. Stay in this position for a minute or more. Child pose is a great relaxing exercise not only for the back but also for the mind.
This set of exercises for the back at home will take only 10-15 minutes; it is desirable to perform it every day. You can use these exercises as a charge, physical exercise during the day, or a warm-up for any workouts.
General recommendations to help avoid problems with the spine
- Replace the bag with a backpack, and if the dress code does not allow it, then at least hang the bag from one shoulder to another every 15-20 minutes.
- If you have a sedentary job, do a little warm-up every 30-40 minutes: simple exercises that you remember from physical education classes or even walking up the stairs.
- Arrange a place to work at the computer. Choose a high enough chair so your feet are firmly planted on the floor and your knees are bent at a 90-degree angle. The elbows should be on the support and bent at an angle of 90 degrees, but do not reach for the keyboard; you should get it freely. Place the monitor at eye level.
- Set up a comfortable driving position. Adjust the seat so that your legs are not strained. The headrest should be exactly in the middle of the back of the head. Place a pillow or rolled towel under your lower back to provide support. If you are on a long journey, try to stop and stretch every 30-40 minutes.
- Keep an eye on the position of your head while using your smartphone: do not stretch your face to the gadget located at chest level – this increases the load on the neck several times. Instead, raise your smartphone to eye level (even if others think you are photographing them, this is better than having computer neck syndrome ).
- Buy an orthopedic mattress and pillow that follows the physiological curves of the spine. Simple models will cost quite a budget; the main thing is to choose a mattress and a pillow in an offline store, since before buying, it is necessary to check whether the parameters and filler suit you.
Adjust your daily habits, do not forget to exercise daily, and your spine will be young and healthy for many years!