One of the fundamental aspects of living a healthy lifestyle is having a strong core. But this doesn’t mean just your abdominals. Your lower and upper back are key components of this area and they assist in your movements every day. Having a strong back improves your stability, balance and helps you avoid injury. You should try to work out your back just as much as other parts of your body. Here are a few simple exercises you can do at home to keep your back strong.
This is a great exercise to work your shoulders and upper back. Stand up straight with your feet shoulder-width apart and your knees slightly bent. With a pair of lightweight dumbbells in each hand, lean forward at the waist and keep your palms facing in. With your elbows slightly bent upwards, raise the weights out to the sides and up as far as you can, as if you were spreading your wings to fly. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and engage your abdomen. Lower the dumbbells back down slowly and repeat. We recommend doing two sets of 16 reps.
A classic yoga move, this relaxing exercise is another great movement to improve your posture and increase your stability. Start by lying face down with your arms stretched out overhead. With your toes pointed out and a big inhale, lift your arms and legs about 6 inches off the ground. Hold for 1 second. To better concentrate, think of your legs being pulled out away from your hips. Next, rotate your arms in a large circle out to your sides, wrapping them around, and ending behind you. Exhale, reach your arms toward your toes with your palms facing inward, and flex your back muscles. After 1 second, slowly bring your arms back around to the front, lower your feet and relax. It’s best to repeat this entire exercise six to eight times.
This exercise is designed to work your lower and middle back. Exercising this area is important for flexibility and injury prevention. Hold one dumbbell in each hand and stand upright with your feet hip-width apart. Bend your knees slightly. Lean forward from your hips and while keeping your back flat, pull the dumbbells upward to your chest. Be sure that the dumbbells are in front of your knees and you’re keeping your upper arms and elbows close to your ribs. Focus on squeezing your shoulder blades together and then lower the dumbbells slowly. Try doing two sets of 10 to 12 reps, and increase over time.
Opposite Arm and Leg Reach
This simple movement will not only help to stretch and work your back muscles, but also improve your posture. First, start on all fours. With your right arm, reach forward. At the same time, stretch your left leg back while flexing your foot. Hold this position. After holding for five seconds, slowly release and repeat using the left arm and right leg. Both of these movements count as one rep, so no cheating! About 10 to 15 reps per side should be enough to work your back muscles and help stretch out any kinks.
Hip Bridge (Bridge Lifts)
Rounding out our list is an easy exercise that will engage your lower back and glutes. Lie on your back with your feet flat on the floor. Keep them hip-width apart, relax your arms, and bend your knees as if you were about to do a crunch. Lift your hips upward and squeeze your buttocks really tight, creating a straight line all the way from your knees to your shoulders. Hold for three seconds and lower slowly. Start low with five or six repetitions, but once you are accustomed to this movement, build up to 10-12.
You can choose your own dumbbell weights in any of these exercises based on your own ability. Remember that these exercises should be challenging, but not impossible. You don’t need an expensive trainer or gym membership to work out your back. You can work your core in the comfort of your own home with simply a few dumbbells and a yoga mat. For those of you looking for extra back support, check out our selection of back braces, which include the popular Thermoskin Elastic Back stabiliser and Thermoskin Back Brace.