Try standing for eight or nine hours behind a counter or underneath a car on a lift. If the back muscles are strong, you can stand for ten hours without back pain. If, however, the back muscles are not worked out, back pain in addition to fatigue will affect the entire body. Since the back muscles are part of the core muscle group, they hold the body erect in addition to lending help when bending and lifting. Back strengthening exercises are key to whole body health.
One facet of back strength is that most back exercises work out the abdominal muscles as well. For a strong core, people must consider the whole thing because they work together. Stretching before exercising is imperative. It “wakes up” the muscles and prevents injury. Here are some tips for stretching and strengthening the back muscles.
- Stand with feet hip width apart. Raise the right arm overhead as if beginning to climb. Alternate with the left arm for a count of twenty. Repeat this three times. This stretches the obliques.
- Stand with feet hip width apart. Slowly bend from the hips with hands touching the floor. Lift the belly button toward the spine for a count of ten. Relax. Lift the belly button toward the spine again for a count of ten. Repeat this three times. This stretches the erector spinae muscles, or the muscles surrounding the spine.
Once the muscles have been stretched, back strengthening exercises may begin. One of these will be strength training and the other targeting back muscles.
- On hands and knees, body bent at a 90 degree angle, hold out the left arm as if pointing toward something. Hold out the right leg as if pointing to something behind. Pull the belly button in toward the spine. Hold for a count of ten. Switch arms and legs and hold for a count of ten. Repeat this three times. This is a strength training exercise.
- Lie flat on the floor, arms at the sides, feet slightly apart. Keeping the hips on the floor, lift the shoulders no more than eight inches off the floor. Hold for a count of ten. Lower the shoulders and repeat three times for a count of ten. This targets the erector spinae. For deeper targeting, stretch the left arm in front as if pointing while lifting the shoulders for a count of ten. Alternate with the other arm for a count of ten with three repetitions.
You will notice the abdominal, buttock and leg muscles tightening during exercise. The muscles segue into each other, strengthening all of them. Stretch the muscles following exercise to prevent injury.