Strengthen Your Spine!
In our last blog we talked about back injury and discs
In this week’s blog we look at making the spine stronger and more resilient.
If you have ever had a back injury in the past or if you haven’t – these exercises are suitable for everyone.
In the past there has been a culture in healthcare of over protecting the spine and avoiding placing it under stress.
The culture that the back is a vulnerable piece of the body and that you should be overly cautious with it has not helped us to strengthen our backs.
In order to strengthen anything we need to place it under some form of stress. The right amount of stress at the right intensity.
Your spine is flexible, strong and very versatile – and you want to keep it this way.
How do we strengthen muscles?
We strengthen our muscles by performing weighted exercises and movements against resistance to produce overload in to the muscles and tendons to make ourselves stronger.
Now why wouldn’t we do this in our spine?
Well we should – strengthening the spinal muscles, trunk muscles, spinal discs and other tissues involved is key to building a bullet proof back.
Having a strong, robust back obviously helps to prevent injury but it also helps you to perform better at the gym, work and in everyday life.
I’ve hurt my back before – does this mean it will always be a problem?
Not necessarily – if you follow the right instructions to rehabilitate the injury. It also depends on the severity of your back injury but, typically only a very low percentage of back problems are considered serious.
Even back pain/injuries which need surgery can be recovered from.
With back injuries it is really important to:
- Get checked for any serious problems by a healthcare professional
- Re–establish your range of movement
- Regain strength in the back
- Normalise your movement for everyday tasks
- Address the mental side of the injury such as emotions attached to the injury and concerns which may be blocking your road to recovery
Following these basics you will find that your back can get to its pre injury level with time.
Again – this depends on your pain levels or injury – but getting guidance from a therapist will always help.
I want to strengthen my back where do I begin?
So we have to sensible with how we begin back strengthening exercises.
We do not want to overload it too fast and cause pain or injury.
Like any new exercise regime – start with small, less intense sessions.
Here are some of the best bodyweight exercises for spinal strengthening which anyone can start to do.
Top 3 best back strength exercises!
- Superman holds – lie on the floor, hold your hands out in front and extend them above your head at the same time as lifting your legs off the floor. Hold for as long as you can and try to build the time up each time. This exercise fires up the whole posterior chain!
- 4 Point arm and leg extension – on your hands and knees in all 4 position. Extend your right arm out and left leg out. Keep your pelvis level, your leg extended straight back and not up – and look down the line of your hand. Hold for 5-10 seconds before swapping. Focus on control of your breath and body – keep things in good form and stable.
- Floor Bridging – lie on the floor with your knees bent and feet on floor. Push through the floor and lift your bum as high as you can - hold for time. Great for glutes, spinal muscles and hamstrings – all which help to support the spine.
Top 3 back strength exercises for the gym!
- Jefferson Curl – you will need some dumbbells, a plate or an Olympic bar for this one depending on your capability. I would recommend a light weight to start if you haven’t done this before. Standing on a platform with some weight in your hand – you will start to roll your spine downwards segment by segment until you are fully bent over. When you reach the bottom – you will start to curl up to standing very gradually. Repeat until tired. Simplified, this exercise is simply bending down and straightening up with weight but keeping your legs straight and focusing on segmental movement of the spine. Check this video out.
- Deadlift – a classic – but a staple for leg and back strength – in fact it’s a great all round exercise for the body but amazing for spinal strength. With bent knees – pick your bar, kettlebell or dumbbells off the floor until you are in a standing position. A deadlift is simply picking weight from the floor with a straight back and bending the knees.
- Kneeling bent over dumbbell row - this exercise strengthen the latissimus muscles on the back which help to stabilise the spine and also the biceps. The position it is performed in helps us to stabilise the spine and create good tension through the mid-section. The spine should be straight, your supporting arm engaged. Here is a video on how to perform kneeling rows
The next blog will focus on spine mobility and what you can be doing to make your back more mobile and robust and how to do it safely.
That concludes our blog for this week. We hope that this has given you some new ideas to keep you healthy.
If you are struggling with back pain and need some advice or treatment – we are here to help assess, treat and rehab you. Get in touch or book online.
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