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Video:How to Do Back Strengthening Exercises

with Jonathon E. Stewart

A strong back equals a strong and healthy body, so back strengthening exercises can be beneficial to the whole self. Here are a few back strengthening exercises to get your back moving in the right direction.See Transcript

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Transcript:How to Do Back Strengthening Exercises

As an old coach once told me, you're only as strong as your back.  And considering a strong, healthy back is key to good posture, balance, and even getting a good night's sleep, I think he

Preparing to do Back Strengthening Exercises

Before beginning any back-strengthening exercises, as with any exercise routine, contact your doctor if you have any concerns about how they might specifically affect your body.  Take the time to warm up before you exercise with 5-10 minutes of very light cardio, like walking or running in place.

And be sure to take it easy.  You should only do these every other day at most in order to give your muscles time to recoup, and if you're feeling any pain or pinching during or after your workout, back off all together.  Get it?  Back?  Off?

Performing Back Strengthening Exercises

#1 Knee to Chest

Start by lying on your back with your legs extended, toes toward the ceiling.  Slowly bring your right knee as close to your chest as possible while making sure that your lower back remains in contact with the floor.  Keep your knee bent for a few seconds, then extend the right leg back to its starting position, and repeat with the left.

When it comes to the number of repetitions on these exercises, start low––maybe only 5 or 6 each.  You should feel that your body has been worked out at the end of it, but if you're really sore the following day, you've probably overdone it.  Take your time and eventually work up to 12-15 reps.

#2 Bridge

Start by lying on your back, legs bent with your feet flat on the floor.  Engage your stomach muscles and slowly straighten your midsection, so that your entire torso and legs are as close to a straight line as possible.  Keep your arms by your sides on the floor, palms down. Hold for a slow count to five, then gently release.

It's really important with these exercises that you remember to breathe.  It may sounds silly, but for some reason, especially when we're trying to balance, we sometimes forget.  And oxygen, it turns out, is pretty important.

#3 Plank

Lying on your stomach, place your forearms on the floor so that your elbows line up roughly underneath your shoulders.  Tighten your abs and slowly raise your legs and torso off the ground so that only your toes and forearms are touching.  Keep your back and legs as straight as possible, like a plank.  Hold as long as you can keep proper form, without arching your back. You can even tuck your pelvis in a little to protect your back. You can work on building up to holding this for a minute.

#4 Superman

Do this next exercise only if you’re pain-free — if you have back pain you should be very careful about extending your back. Start by lying face down with your hands over your head.  Keeping your eyes facing down, carefully lift your feet and hands toward the ceiling simultaneously, forming an arc with your body.  Hold for a count of 10, relax, and repeat.

#5 Wall Squat

Stand with your back against a wall with your feet shoulder-width apart.  Keeping your feet flat on the floor and directly below your knees, slowly slide down the wall into a sitting position with your thighs parallel to the floor.  Hold as long as possible, then slowly straighten your legs until you're back in a standing position.

This last one is a doozie on the legs as well.  As you may have noticed, these exercises are progressively more challenging as you go for most people, so don't be hard on yourself if it takes some time to get through the whole routine and work up your hold time and number of reps.  Go slow, breathe, and enjoy.

I'm Jonathon Stewart with About.com.

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