Wellness Wednesday With Patrick – Week 4: Take It On Back

lower back Wellness Wednesday
It's a bird! It's a plane! It's...a dude who really needs a haircut!

Like I said in last week’s blog, it is important to work out your lower back when you’re working on the core. It’s often overlooked and also injured. Injury varies when it comes to how it occurs. It could either be overcompensating on certain exercises like squats or by only concentrating on abs when working on the core. An example of the former would be injuring your back during squatting, something I’ve done before. It is important to keep your spine straight and torso parallel with your shins. Leaning and bending your back will injure it. I’ve done it more than once because I wasn’t paying attention to my form. I recommend looking in the mirror to make sure your torso is in line with your shins.

Like I noted last week, if you ignore exercising your lower back, you’ll end up relying on support structures to take on stresses your muscles should be supporting themselves. That’s why it’s a good idea to mix in lower back exercises. I try to alternate back and abs every other workout to keep my lower back as strong as possible. Below are some examples of lower back exercises I like doing.

Lower Back Exercises

The simplest lower back exercise I like to do are back bows. Lay flat down on the ground with your arms to the side. Contract your lower back and glutes to lift your legs and upper body off the ground. Make sure you keep your head looking down to minimize the strain on your neck.

You can increase the difficulty by extending your arms out in front, also known as the Superman. This increases the surface area of what you have to lift up, strengthening your back even more. Swimmer pulses mimic the motion you make when swimming in water; contract your shoulders, lower back, and glutes to lift opposing arms and shoulders (so left arm and right leg lift and vice-versa). With both the Superman and swimmer pulses, try keeping your limbs hovering off the ground for added difficulty.

Another back bow variation I like is the back bow pull. When face down, keep your arms out straight. When you come up, pull your arms to the shoulder by retracting your shoulder blades. Imagine you are actually moving weights like a lat pull down by resisting the pull. It will feel as close to actually moving weights without lifting.

Back bow crescents work your obliques, but not as intensely as moves like crunches and planks because your lower back does more of the work. Lying face down, keep straight and try to keep your arms out in front of you if you can. Contract your lower back and squeeze the glute of one side of your body to pull your limbs toward that side of the body. From above, it will look like your body is in the shape of a crescent moon. It’s awkward at first, but I like to work this in to challenge both sides of my body.

It’s even more awkward to get a good picture to demonstrate it in a small apartment!

Bridges are popular butt exercises, but they’re great for the lower back. A great way to work the back even more in the bridge position are bridge marches. Laying down with your lower back off the ground in a bridge, march one leg up at a time until your shin is parallel (or close to parallel) to the ceiling.

Finally, bird dog pulses are great for the lower back as well as the shoulders. From the tabletop position, kick one leg up to as close to a 90 degree angle as possible. Lift the opposing arm up in front of your body. Pulse those raised limbs in a quick yet controlled manner for 10 to 15 seconds, then bring back to tabletop and switch sides. I do this for three to five sets.

Shout out to Squirtle back there for checking my form!

Stretching is important

It’s very important to stretch too! Sitting down with your legs straight out, cross one leg over the other with your knee pointed up. Cross the elbow of the opposing arm over the knee and pull back. Doesn’t that feel good! Your back needs special attention, so make sure you take care of it. Remember to exercise it, stay within your comfort zone of exercise, not overdo it, and only challenge yourself when you feel ready. Reach out if you have any questions!

I’m proud of you (and Squirtle is too)!

Check back next week for another installment of Wellness Wednesdays With Patrick!

Disclaimer: Always consult a physician before starting an exercise routine. Nash In Tune is not responsible for any injuries. Stay smart and stay safe!

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