Strengthening exercises are specifically designed physical activities that improve muscle strength and flexibility. Strengthening exercises help an individual lose body fat, gain muscle mass, muscular endurance and ensure a healthy body.
Back strengthening exercises
Back strengthening exercises are designed to improve strength, endurance and flexibility of the back muscles. These include specific exercises for the back and abdomen. Forward and backward activities of the spine require strong back and abdomen muscles to counterbalance the movement of the spine.
Position: Lying on the back
Lie on the back and keep the knees flexed. Keep the feet and palms flat on the floor. Tighten the abdominal muscle to maintain neutral position of the spine. This is the starting position for back exercises.
Lie on the back with knees bent. Keep the feet flat on the floor and arms at the sides. Now, gradually raise the hips little by little. Remember to raise the hips without arching the back. Tighten the stomach to avoid pushing out of the stomach which may tend to arch the back. Hold the position for 5 seconds. Afterward, slowly come back to the starting position. Repeat the technique five times. The Bridge-up exercise helps to strengthen buttock muscles.
- Partial curl-up
Lie on the back with flexed knees. Keep the feet flat on the floor and arms at the sides. Cross the arms loosely over the chest. Tighten the abdomen and curl halfway up. Keep the middle and lower back flat on the floor and raise the head and shoulders from the floor. Hold the position for a few seconds and then return to the relaxed position. Repeat the technique five times. The partial curl-up exercise strengthens the abdominal muscles.
- Trunk rotation
Lie on the back and keep the knees bent. Keep both feet and shoulders flat on the floor. Gradually drop the knees to one side and turn the head in the opposite direction. Hold the position for 20 seconds and gradually come to the previous position. Repeat the technique three times. The trunk rotation exercise strengthens the lower back muscles.
Position: Lying on the stomach
Lie on the floor facing down. Keep the feet slightly apart and forehead on the floor with arms bent at the elbow above the head. Push the body upon the forearms while keeping the neck straight. Lift the abdomen away from the floor. Hold for 20 seconds and slowly come back to the relaxed position. Repeat the exercise 3 to 5 times. The press up exercise strengthens the lower back muscles.
- Opposite arm and leg raise
Lie face down, forehead on the floor and keep the arms above the head without flexing the elbows and wrists. Slowly lift the arm and the opposite leg, and tighten the lower back and buttock muscles. Hold for 2 seconds and come back to the starting position. The technique is practiced with the other arm and its opposite leg as well. Repeat the procedure with each arm for 3 to 5 times. This exercise targets your core and lower back.
- Superman or swimming
Lie on the stomach, forehead on the floor and keep the arms above the head without bending the elbows and wrists. Gradually lift both arms and legs from the ground. Tighten the lower back and muscles of the buttocks. Hold the position for 2 seconds and come back to the starting position. Repeat the exercise 10 times. This exercise also targets your lower back.
Position: On hands and knees
- Cat stretch
Keep the body in a crawling position. Evenly distribute the bodyweight on the hands and knees. Gradually tighten the abdominal and buttock muscles, and press the back upward. Let the head drop forward. Hold the position for five seconds. Now slowly relax the abdominal and buttock muscles, lift the head and bring back the spine to a normal position. Once again tighten the muscles of the abdomen and buttock and press the back downwards. Move the head forward and upward. Hold the position for five seconds. Now slowly relax and come back to the normal position. Repeat the process 10 times. The Cat stretch exercise strengthens the core and lower back muscles.
- 5. Arm reach
Keep the body in a crawling position and distribute the body weight evenly over the hands and knees. Raise one arm straight out in front. Do not raise your head and do not allow the supporting shoulder to drop. Tighten the abdominal muscles to prevent sagging of the trunk. Hold the position for five seconds and lower the arm. Repeat the process 10 times and alternate using the opposite arm. This is a core strengthening exercise.
- 6. Arm reach with leg reach
With the body in crawling position, raise one leg straight back and extend the opposite arm straight forward. Avoid arching the back, or sagging the head or body. Tighten the abdominal muscles and hold for five seconds. Repeat the process 10 times and alternate using the other leg and its opposite arm. This exercise targets the core and low back.
Muscles of the back and neck have many complex functions that control posture and movements of the back and neck. Strengthening exercises of these areas improve the strength, flexibility and endurance of the muscles and help to maintain general fitness of the body and prevent further problems related to the back and neck.