Back-strengthening exercises at home, such as planks and bridges, use your own body weight to build muscle.
Strengthening the back not only improves posture, but also prevents or relieves common back pain.
You can do one or two of these exercises during breaks from work or combine all six exercises into a complete home workout.
Back pain is common – about eight out of ten people will experience back pain at some point in their lives. Back-strengthening exercises like the bridge and the chair are one of the best ways to combat back pain and prevent injuries. “If you want to strengthen your back, focus on strengthening the muscles that support your back,” says Tatiana Lampa, corrective training specialist and founder of the Training with T. training app. Here are six home workouts that you can easily integrate into your daily routine to reduce back pain.
1. The plank
“The plank strengthens your core muscles, which are essential for strengthening your back,” says Lampa. When your core is weak, you have less muscular support for your back, which can lead to low back pain and poor posture.
How the plank works:
- Get in a stable position with your hands and knees on the floor.
- Your hands should be directly below your shoulders and your knees should be hip-width apart.
- Kick your feet back and straighten your legs so you are supported on your footballs.
- Tighten your abdominal muscles and hold the position while keeping your back straight.
Depending on your core strength, you can hold the plank for 10 to 30 seconds and make 2 or 3 sets.
A message: If this position hurts your wrists, you can also try a low plank using your forearms for support. You can also get your knees on the floor if you need a less strenuous version.
2. Side plank
The side plank strengthens the oblique muscles that help rotate and stabilize the spine.
To make a sidebar:
- Get into the normal plank position first.
- Raise your right hand and rotate your body so that the front of your body is facing right.
- Place your right hand on your right hip.
- Roll your left foot so that you are supported by the outer edge of your foot.
- Lift your right foot and place it on your left side.
- Tighten the lateral muscles on each side of your abdomen and hold the position.
- As with the regular plank, you can adjust this position so that you rest your left forearm on the floor instead of your hand.
- Repeat the same exercise on the other side.
Try holding the position for 10-30 seconds on each side and do 3 repetitions. Strong lateral muscles are important to keep your spine moving – these are the muscles that allow you to bend and rotate your torso sideways.
3. “Bird dog” exercise
“Bird dogs are one of my favorite exercises in the lower back that strengthen the core and glutes,” says Lampa. Glutes are very important for a healthy back because they stabilize the pelvis and lower back when you walk and move.
How to make the “bird dog”:
- Lay your hands and knees on the floor.
- While tightening your abdominal muscles, lift your left arm and stretch it forward at shoulder height.
- Then lift your right knee and stretch your leg back so that your foot is level with your hip.
- Hold this position for a few seconds while keeping your abdominal muscles and glutes tight.
- Lower your arm and leg and repeat the same process on the other side.
Aim for eight to ten repetitions on each side, and make two to three sets of them, depending on how you feel.
The Superman exercise strengthens the glutes and lower back and can help combat low back pain. As the Superman exercise stretches the spine, it can also help strengthen the muscles along the spine.
How “Superman” works:
- Lie face down on the floor, stretch your arms forward over your head, and stretch your legs just behind you.
- At the same time, lift your arms and legs up a few inches so that they are parallel to the floor.
- Hold this position for five seconds while keeping your abdominal and back muscles tight.
- Slowly lower your arms and legs back to the floor.
Repeat this exercise ten times.
“A bridge is an excellent and very simple exercise to strengthen your back,” says Mitchell Starkman, a sports and orthopedic physiotherapist from Canada. The bridge is aimed at muscles at the back of the body, such as the erector spinae and latissimus dorsi, Starkman explains. It is also “a fantastic back-friendly exercise for anyone recovering from an injury or wanting to build strength,” says Lampa. This is because glutes do most of the work, relieving stress on the lower back.
This is how the bridge position works:
- Lie on your back, bend at the knees and place your feet flat on the floor, approx. hip width distance.
- Place your hands flat on the floor at your sides, making sure your fingertips can touch the back of your heels.
- Lift your hips and push down with your feet and palms.
- Push the chin slightly towards the chest to avoid straining the neck.
- Hold this position for 10 to 30 seconds while tightening your buttocks and glutes.
- Slowly lower yourself and repeat two or three sets.
6. Chair position
The chair position you may know from yoga – it strengthens the muscles that stabilize your lower back, including the glutes and core, says Starkman. Maintaining this position can strengthen your lumbar muscles. This is important because “back injuries often occur when our muscles are tired,” says Starkman.
This is how the chair position works:
- Place your feet hip-width apart.
- Lift your arms over your head and keep them parallel to each other.
- Bend your knees and sit with your buttocks back, as if you were sitting in a chair.
- Keep your back straight and avoid arching your lower back.
- Lean your upper body slightly forward so that it forms a right angle with your thighs.
- Hold the position for 30 seconds to one minute.
Aim to do this pose twice a day and train for up to three sets.
Strengthening the back is important to develop a good posture and prevent injuries. Exercises like the bridge, superman and plank can help strengthen your core, upper and lower back. “Starting something new is never easy, but even if you start with a five-minute workout twice a week, it’s still something,” says Starkman.
This text was translated from English by Lisa Ramos-Doce. You can find the original here.