A New Twist for a Sore Back
You know how important your core is for support and performance. Whether you’re working hard or playing hard your core is working hard for you. Even the most fit athletes and weekend warriors can suffer with sore back muscles from time to time. One way to help prevent a sore back is to add regular strength and flexibility training to your fitness routine. Here are four of my favorite yoga poses and dynamic stretches for building strength and adding flexibility to your back and core.
You know how a cat looks when they sense danger. They “hunch” up and make themselves look as big as possible, right? By mimicking your cat you can build strength in your back, tighten your ab muscles and improve your posture.
Start on your hands and knees making sure that your shoulders are aligned directly over your hands, so that your arms are in a straight line for good support. Align your knees under your hips for solid support as well.
Exhale, and while hunching your back like a cat, lower your head and look at your belly button. Hold this pose to feel a good stretch and then return to your starting position.
Staying with the animal theme for a moment, the cow pose (which is kind of the concave version of the cat pose) can be added to provide a full range of motion and a two for one routine for your back.
Staying on your hands and knees raise your head so that you are looking up toward the sky. At the same time, drop your belly toward the floor and roll your shoulders back. This causes a “sway back” and a profile you might see on a cow standing in a pasture. As you drop your belly and raise your head take a deep inhale and hold the pose to feel the stretch. As you exhale slowly transition back to “cat pose”.
Moving from cat pose into cow pose and back takes you through a full range of motion and really provides a great dynamic stretch for your back muscles.
The seated twist is another excellent pose and stretch for loosening your back and engaging your core. It’s also good if you want to see who’s behind you ;-)
To perform the seated twist, sit on the floor with your legs out in front of you. Bend your right knee and move your left arm to the outside of the knee, inhale and sit tall. As you exhale, slowly turn and twist so that you are looking over your right shoulder with your right hand on the floor behind you for support.
As you hold this position and breathe you may find that you can twist a little further with each exhale. Repeat on the other side. Here’s an excellent demonstration of the seated twist from expert village.
If I had to pick one, this would be my favorite! It’s very easy and really helps improve flexibility and strengthen the back muscles we use for twisting. (I wonder if Chubby Checker ever did this one?)
Lay on your back with your arms out to your sides (so you’re forming a “T”). Inhale and raise your left leg with your knee bent. With your right hand grab your left knee, exhale slowly and gently pull your left leg toward the ground as far as you are comfortable. Now, look toward your left outstretched arm keeping your shoulder on the floor. Hold this stretch and then repeat on the other side.
Here’s a good video demonstration of this twist from massagenerd.com.
Try adding some of these poses and dynamic stretches to your daily fitness routine to keep your back strong, flexible and happy!
“Come on baby, let’s do the twist” – Chubby Checker
Steve Stearns is an avid outdoor enthusiast and host of the Outside Health and Fitness podcast. He shares practical advice, resources and interviews experts from the world of fitness, nutrition and health. His goal is to help others discover new, fun and effective ways to be naturally fit, healthy and happy.