While the workers of yesteryear might have found their backs ravaged after hours spent in the fields, we’ve come upon our own menace in the modern day, and it goes by the name of the “sedentary lifestyle.”
It’s easier now more so than ever to build an existence around just a select few positions, with many of us developing back pain—most probably in the lower back—after a routine of moving from a seated desk position to sitting somewhere else—most probably in front of the television—without much variation.
A lack of frequent stretching can, over time, twist one’s spine into unnatural curvatures and inflict permanent damage if we aren’t careful, so even the most minimal limbering up can be hugely beneficial.
Here, we’re going to introduce you to one extremely effective manoeuvre that will not only improve your posture, improve blood circulation and alleviate back pain but also devote some work to toning up your abdominals, too.
Whoever said stretching wasn’t fun clearly had not been introduced to the lying back extension.
It’s in the lying back extension that sits the secret to solving your back pain woes and will help bring your poor posture back to the comfort it once enjoyed before you entered into a fatal cycle of sitting.
Continued on the next page…
The lying back extension is a simple enough exercise to perform given that one need not even stand up to do it and only requires minimal abdominal strength to undertake in the first place.
That being said, here are seven easy step to get you well on your way to proper posture through its might:
- Stand with legs straight and hip-width apart before extending them straight behind you. Balance your weight evenly across both feet.
- Lie face down on your stomach with your forehead touching the floor—preferably on a soft surface—and extend your arms out in front of you.
- Isolate and engage your lower back muscles (your glutes may also naturally tense up), which should generate the force required to lift you up.
- Lift yourself up, firstly b raising your head before extending to the rest of your upper body. Lift your body up as high as you can.
- Inhale and raise your head to look straight ahead. Now, lift your chest and arms, extending your arms back straight towards the feet. Your palms should be facing down (but not lending a hand in the exercise).
- While your upper body is extended upward, lift your legs up towards the ceiling by engaging your thigh muscles. Your weight should now be resting only on your lower ribs, abs and pelvis.
- Squeeze your back muscles and hold the contraction for 10 seconds (more if possible), and then gently return to the starting position. Repeat as many times as desired to feel the stretch.
As well as being hugely beneficial to the average lifter, the lying back extension can be an optimal stretch for serious athletes, too.
Mike Samuels of Livestrong previously detailed the benefits it poses for more serious competitors and the science behind it:
The muscles of the lower back — erector spinae and quadratus lumborum — are often overlooked in a training plan. For athletes, increased spinal erector and quadratus lumborum strength can help prevent injuries and develop muscle, and for the general public, a strong lower back prevents back pain or can help manage it.
Some gyms will have lying back extension machines, but the temptation here is to allow the natural structure of the machine do the work for you, which is where the floor method can be more beneficial, placing more responsibility on you and your role.
You can also use a stability ball to add an extra dynamic and difficult to the exercise once the orthodox method has been mastered, putting more emphasis on balance and helping achieve an even greater stretch.