There are a few reasons why it is important to pay attention to your back through incorporating strengthening exercises.
For starters, our postural muscles have become weak as we’ve become habitual slouchers in part to our evolving technological society. Consistently slouching in front of computer; repetitively thumbing our phones to death; failing to savor our food and enjoy family conversation by looking up and making eye contact.
In order to develop a strong bench press or prevent your body from forward folding under a heavy squat, one needs to incorporate essential exercises to strengthen the back specifically.RELATED: RECOMMENDED PLANS FOR YOU
Exercises to strengthen the back can be performed first thing in the morning, as a warm-up or cool-down, as an active rest between compound movements, or without the use of equipment.
A simple and functional exercise to strengthen the back is one that serves several purposes and is known as the bridge. This exercise is solid, as it helps to counteract the stress that sitting all day places on our bodies through the backbend; involves a balance element which helps one to gain stability and combat injury; works surrounding muscles including the abdominals, glutes, and lower back which all help to stabilize the spine and prevent back pain; and helps in stretching and lengthening the hip flexors which adds to an increase in flexibility.
Performing the bridge is really rather simple and requires little to none equipment, depending if you want a mat to lie on or not. To start, lie supine (face up) on your back with your feet flat on the ground and hip-width apart.
Bring your arms to the sides of your body, relaxing them, with palms facing towards the ceiling. Next, push your heels into the floor and squeeze your gluteal muscles as you lift your hips upward, keeping a straight line from your knees to your chest and shoulders.
Make sure that your knees are kept parallel to each other and that you avoid arching your low back as your hips move upward. Hold for a count of 5 seconds and then slowly lower your hips to the floor, so that your glutes hover over the ground but do not touch. Continue to repeat this movement for 10-12 repetitions.
Modifications can be made by lifting one leg straight as you maintain the bridge position so that the foot points toward the ceiling. Make sure that your hips stay parallel and your foot stays in a flexed position.
Obviously, this is going to make the bridge considerably harder, so start with a few repetitions first, building up to a full set. Also, be sure to do both sides so as to keep your body balanced and proportionate.
Focus on the quality of this movement, trying to create long and straight lines which will help to strengthen your back as well as provide good posture and muscular balance.