Many people think that to strengthen their back, they only need to work their back muscles. But actually your back and your abdominal muscles work together to keep you upright and well-supported – so you need to strengthen both. A great way to do this is by doing crunches…the right way, of course.
To do a proper abdominal crunch, lay on your back with your knees bent and your feet on the ground. Stretch your arms towards the ceiling so they are perpendicular with the ground. Reach for the ceiling, lifting your upper torso slightly off the ground by engaging your upper abdominal muscles. Slowly lower yourself back down. Repeat for 10-15 reps.
Do not put your hands behind your head or neck during crunches, as you can actually strain your neck muscles and cause more discomfort. Also, don’t worry about how far off the ground you lift yourself. Concentrate on engaging your abs and doing slow, controlled movements.
Lower back pain is often caused by tension that builds up in your back, abdominal, and leg muscles. To relieve some of this tension in a safe way, do hamstring stretches. Lay on your back with your knees bent and your feet on the floor. Using a towel or resistance band looped around the sole of your foot or shoe, straighten your leg and gently move your foot towards your forehead. This stretches your hamstring and gradually releases lower back tension and pain.
Wall sits engage your core and your legs to strengthen your whole body for optimal stability. Stand with your back to a wall and your heels 10-12 inches away from the wall. Lean back until your shoulders and back touch the wall. Slowly slide down the wall until you are in a seated position, supporting yourself with your thighs and core. Hold the position for 10 seconds, before standing upright and repeat 8-12 times. If at any time you feel the need to stop, you can stand upright or slide down to the floor to a seated position.
In addition to building up your abdominals, stretching your hamstrings, and strengthening your legs and core, you’ll want to strengthen your back muscles to relieve back pain, too. Swimming is a great way to get a good cardio workout while strengthening your back, shoulder, and arm muscles for an all-over workout. Swimming allows you to get the benefits of resistance training while eliminating the risks of impact exercises. By strengthening your back muscles, your body weight will be better supported along your spine and not all the pressure resting on your lower back.