Lower back pain is one of the most gruesome pains. Since there is no permanent cure for it, you have to live with it for the rest of your life. I was in my late teens when I had a slipped disc. I thought the doctor would be surprised to see such a young patient going through back pain, but with today’s lifestyle anything is possible.
Earlier it was believed that only old people suffered with back pain. But these days lower back pain has nothing to do with age. Anybody and everybody with a lethargic lifestyle and bad eating habits can suffer from a weak spine. Being a dancer, I was pretty much active and my body received enough amounts of exercises. But one day due to over exertion my back couldn’t take it anymore and during rehearsals my back stiffened. The pain was unbearable. It felt as if thousand needles were poking my lower back all at the same time. The reason for my slipped disc was lack of nutrition food resulting in a weak lower back and over exertion. So a combination of back strengthening exercises and a healthy diet will help you from avoiding back pain.
Yoga exercises for strengthening back muscles
Following are a couple of traditional Indian (yoga) ways in which you can say bye-bye to a weak back. All you require is a mat or a thick towel to keep your back warm.
This asana is what I call as the Superman exercise. Lie flat on your stomach. See to it that you’re feet are pointed and your hands outstretched above your head like a superman. Now, lift your left hand and right leg off the floor as much as you can. While doing this your hip might raise a little bit but that’s natural. See to it that it does not come off the floor too much. Count till 8, lower them down and relax. Repeat the same thing with the right hand and left leg. Do 3 reps on both sides.
Another variation in this exercise is that instead of only one hand and leg, you lift both your hands and legs off the floor while your body is resting on your stomach, just like a see – saw. Avoid swinging. Do 3 repetitions. Since our back is naturally arched, this exercise helps you to stretch and straighten your back.
As the name suggests, you always love to love yourself. Lie flat on your back. Make sure your back is flat on the floor. Now, bring your right knee close to your chest and lock your hands over it while the other leg is straight on the floor.
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Do not lift your leg off the floor. Raise your head and try to touch your chin to the knee as much as you can. Count till 5 and let go off your leg slowly. Repeat the same thing with the other leg. Do 5 reps. You can also try this with both your legs.
This asana is called as Marjarasan (marja meaning cat). Like a cat, put your hands and knees on the floor. Contract from your stomach by making a curve like a U with your back, your head facing downwards and stay there for 5 counts. Now extend your back (just like the cat arches its back), your head facing upwards and count till 5. Repeat this back contraction – extension 5 times.
You can add more variations in this exercise. Just like you moved your back up and down, you go sideways. Contract your right side as if you are trying to touch your head to the hip. Wait there for 5 counts. Repeat the same thing on you left. Instead of going up down and both sides, all you do is go in a circle. Start with contraction upwards, right side contraction, back extension and lastly contraction on your left side. Repeat the complete set 5 times.
Bend it like Beckham
Sit on the floor with your legs bent behind. Make sure your seat muscles are resting on your feet. This position is called as the Vajrasan. This asana is good for digesting your food. Now just raise yourself so that your body, above your knee onwards is perpendicular to the floor. Basically your body is in an L shape. From here, place your right palm on your right heel and your left on your left heel. Remain in that position for 5 counts.
Now slowly take your hands off one by one and return in the Vajrasan position. Next, bend forward slowly with your hands outstretched straight forwards and rest your hands on the floor. Do not raise your seat muscle. If you can’t touch the floor without lifting your seat muscles, then try to forward as much as you can. This exercise is to let your back feel the stretch after you have done the back bending exercise. I am also listing a couple of ballet based exercises that I include in my warm up before dancing.
This is more of an intermediate type of exercise. If you are doing it for the first time please take care. As the name suggests flat back means literally flattening your back. Keep your legs shoulder length apart, feet pointing forwards. Raise your hands straight above your head. Now without bending your knee, lean forwards, so your body is in right angle with the floor. Make sure that your back is flat and not hunched. You might feel slight pain in your back but it is the good kind of pain. Stay there till the count of 5. Now bend from your knee and come up again, maintaining the flat back at the same time. Repeat this 10 times.
After you’re done with the repetitions, bend from your knee, drop down and slowly roll up. Always remember finishing your exercise is as important as starting them.
This exercise is done usually after you are done with the flat back. Place the base of your palms on your lower back. This helps in supporting your back. Now bend backwards without pushing your hip forward. The idea is to go behind and not forward. Stay there for 5 counts and slowly come up. Doing this twice is more than enough.
These home remedial exercises will surely help you to avoid back pains. If you regularly follow these exercises, not only will you be able to keep back ache away but it’ll also help you to strengthen your back muscles.
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