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From Back Pain to Back Strength

If you’ve experienced a backache, you know it can derail an entire day. So how do you avoid that discomfort? Build strength in your core muscles which support the spine. According to Dr. Mayrene Hernandez, chief medical officer for UnitedHealthcare Florida, carrying extra weight in the mid-section, which is common among over 75% of men and 60% of women* in the U.S., not only contributes to back pain but also increases the risk of a heart attack.

 

Start your strong core program.

If you suffered a back injury, check with a doctor before starting any exercise program. When approved, Dr. Hernandez recommends starting with low-impact aerobic exercise such as swimming, water aerobics, walking or biking, then adding in bodyweight exercises to stretch and strengthen the back. The following two exercises are an ideal place to start, then once you master these, research online for additional exercises to continue your progress.

 

Cat-Cow Warmup: This can help loosen the joints of the spine and restore flexibility to the spinal muscles and ligaments. Start on all fours with your hands and knees on the floor. Knees are hip-width apart. Hands are below your shoulders, with the elbows straight but not locked. Look down at the floor. As you exhale, let your head move toward your chest while rounding your back with the spine toward the ceiling. Hold for 10 seconds. As you inhale, let your stomach move toward the floor, arching your lower back. Allow your shoulder blades to move together. Hold for 10 seconds. Alternate between the two positions. Repeat five to 10 times.

Pelvic Tilt: You can do this exercise by itself to strengthen your lower back or along with the other exercise mentioned. On the floor or a firm surface, lie on your back with your knees bent and feet positioned flat on the floor. Leave a space between the small of your back and the floor. Tighten your abdominal muscles, so the small of your back presses flat against the floor. Hold this position for five or six seconds. Then relax, allowing a space again between the small of your back and the floor. Alternate between the two positions. Repeat five to 10 times.

 

*Data provided by Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME)

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