Back pain, you probably don’t realize this, but it’s the leading cause of disability for people between 19 and 45, it’s the number one reason for missed workdays, and, ironically, it’s also one of the easiest ailments to prevent. Most back problems are not the result of an injury, but come from bad posture and a lack of exercise.
With a simple routine geared toward bettering your posture and increasing your back strength, you can avoid the degeneration that buckles so many of us. With a simple routine, you can take a healthy back well into your future. Here’s how.
THE HOME STRETCH
Maintaining a flexible back is one sure way to ward-off back problems in your future. In fact, stretching is just as important as strength training when it comes to longevity and comfort in later life. A back that is strong but inflexible is more likely to suffer injury.
A stretch called the “press-up” will help. Lie on your stomach on a firm surface with your palms on the floor directly under the shoulders. Press up with your arms, keeping your lower body relaxed and hips and legs on the floor. Do this whenever your back is feeling tight or sore.
When it comes to preventing back pain, there are a number of muscles that play an important role. At the top of this list is the Erector Spinae. This muscle group, which attaches at the pelvis, spine, and ribs, provides support to your entire back.
Another important group of muscles is the one at the top of your back, which extends into your neck. The Semispinalis Capitis is the muscle responsible for holding up your head and extending your neck, and when it comes to preventing back trouble, it’s key.
Finally, as posture plays a vital role in maintaining a healthy back, muscles like the Rhomboids (which bring your shoulder blades together) and the Posterior Deltoids (which pull your shoulders back) have to be included in any back maintenance routine.
BUILDING A LASTING BACK
Any training routine designed to combat back problems should include exercises for the muscle groups described above. At the same time, however, it is important to remember that the back is only as strong as the sum of its parts. So, don’t ignore the more aesthetic muscles like the lats and traps. In general, it’s best to begin with the larger muscles first, then work your way toward isolating the smaller ones.
THE OTHER HALF OF THE BATTLE
Resistance training is required to prevent back trouble, but so is aerobic exercise. Aerobic exercise will improve circulation to your back, increase your muscle endurance which can prevent slouching, and will relieve stress – another major cause of back problems.
The best aerobic exercises to prevent back trouble are those that do not put unnecessary strain on your spine. Brisk walking, biking, and especially swimming are perfect. You should perform aerobic exercise for at least 20-40 minutes, 3-5 days a week in order to maintain a healthy back.
BRINGING IT ALL TOGETHER
If you want a healthy, pain-free back well into your “golden years,” just follow these guidelines. Stretch before and after exercise. Train your back with weights at least once a week, and do some kind of aerobic activity 3-5 times a week. It’s a small investment that will pay off big in later years. You’ll be glad you thought ahead, and worked to take you back to the future!
POSTURE IS KEY
Maintaining proper posture is vitally important to preventing back trouble in the future. The purpose of good posture is to keep the natural curvature of your spine intact, so that your body remains supported, stress-free, and less prone to injury and pain. Here are some easy ways to keep good posture and preserve your back for years to come.
DON’T BE A SITTING DUCK
In this hyper-connected world, we often find ourselves sitting for most of the day. When we sit, we tend to slouch or lean forward excessively. This puts strain on our lower backs.
— To maintain the natural curvature of your lower back, place a rolled-up towel or pillow at the small of your back when sitting for extended periods of time.
STAND UP STRAIGHT
Slouching, letting your shoulders fall forward, locking your knees, and drooping your head all place unnecessary stress on your back.
— While standing, imagine that there is a rod running straight through your body from the center of your head to the ground. Let it force you to stand straight, your shoulders pulled back, chest out, and chin up.