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Back Exercises

(continued)

Strengthening Exercises continued...

CORE Strength Exercises

Birddog (Opposite Arm and Leg Extension): Strengthens muscles running down sides of spine, back of shoulders, hips and buttocks

Begin on all fours, hands directly under your shoulders and knees directly under your hips.
Keep head aligned with spine (to help avoid tilting head, look at floor).
Keep buttocks and abdomen tight. Do not arch the back.
Lift one arm up and forward until it is level with torso; simultaneously lift the opposite leg in the same manner. Keep arm, spine, and opposite leg aligned as if they are forming a tabletop.
Balance yourself for 5 seconds then slowly return to starting position. Switch sides and repeat. Remember to breathe. Do ten repetitions.

*If you find the birddog exercise is too difficult, start with extending the leg only, and then extending the arm only and work up to extending both arm and opposite leg at the same time, which increases the challenge to the core and develops balance.

birddog exercise picture

The Bridge: Strengthens several core muscle groups - buttocks, back, abs

Lie flat on back; bend knees at 90-degree angle, feet flat on floor. Tighten abs. Raise buttocks off floor, keeping abs tight. Tighten buttocks. Shoulder to knees should be in straight line. Hold for a count of five. Slowly lower buttocks to floor. Repeat five to fifteen times.

basic bridge exercise picture

One-Leg Bridge:

To increase difficulty of the basic bridge, raise one leg off ground (squeeze buttocks firmly before you raise your leg). Hold for 5 seconds. Switch sides. Repeat five to fifteen times.

one-leg bridge photos

The Plank: Strengthening exercise for back, abs and neck (also strengthens arms and legs)

Lie on stomach, place elbows and forearms on floor. In a push-up position, balance on your toes and elbows. Keep your back straight and legs straight. (Like a plank) Tighten abs. Hold position for 10 seconds. Relax. Repeat five to ten times. If this exercise is too difficult (as it often is for beginners), balance on your knees instead of your toes.

plank exercises pictures
Plank and Plank from knees

Remember to Breathe!

The Side Plank: Strengthens the obliques (side abdominal muscles)

Lie on right side. Place right elbow and forearm on floor. Tighten abs. Push up until shoulder is over elbow. Keep your body in a straight line  feet, knees, hips, shoulders, head aligned. Only forearm and side of right foot are on floor (feet are stacked). Hold position for 10 seconds. Relax. Repeat three to five times. Repeat on left side. If this exercise is too difficult, balance on stacked knees (bend knees and keep feet off floor) instead of feet.

side planks photos
Side Plank and Side Plank from knees

NOTE: The Plank and Side Plank are challenging exercises for beginners. Start with the easier version (balancing on knees). Beginners should also start with fewer repetitions to avoid muscle strain.

CAUTION: The side plank places more stress on the shoulder than the front plank as only one shoulder (and arm) is helping to support the weight of the body. Balancing from the knees rather the feet reduces the load on the shoulder and is less likely to cause or aggravate shoulder problems.

alternating leg-arm-raises - superman exercise picture Alternating Leg and arm raises (Supermans): Strengthens back, lower back and glutes

Lie on stomach, arms reached out past your head with palms and forehead on floor. Tighten abs. Lift one arm (as you raise your head and shoulders) and the opposite leg at the same time, stretching them away from each other. Hold for 5 seconds and then switch sides. Repeat 5 - 10 times.