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Strengthening Exercises For A Healthy Back


Back injuries are one of the most common types of injuries in the workplace. We all know someone who has been affected by this injury. Often caused by heavy lifting, sitting all day with little activity or repetitive movements without proper body mechanics can all lead to back injuries. Many occupations put demands on your body and your back, including landscaping, construction, nursing and office work, that can place significant stress on your body and back. Continuing these movements, however small, over an extended period of time has the potential of injury and in some cases, long term consequences.


Luckily, strengthening exercises can be done to improve core strength and decrease the chances of a back injury.


Bird Dog


Repeat 2x on each side, holding for 10 seconds per side.


1. Start with your hands and knees on the floor. Place your hands directly under your shoulders and your knees directly under your hips (this is approximately 2 fists apart). 2. Lift one leg parallel to the ground, making sure not to arch your back, flexing your toes to the ground. 3. Engaging your core muscles, lift up the arm opposite to the lifted leg while keeping your shoulders and hips flat. 4. Point your nose to the floor and keep your eyes looking at the floor to prevent neck strain. 5. Hold for 10 seconds. 6. Repeat 2x on each side.


Plank


This is a wonderful full-body strengthening exercise. Repeat 2x for 10 – 60 seconds.


1. Start on your hands and knees. Engage your abdominal and buttocks muscles. 2. Place your elbows directly under your shoulders and step one foot back at a time so you are in a low push-up position. 3. Gently tilt your pelvis towards your head and keep your back straight. You should form a straight line from head to heels. 4. Hold for 10 seconds, working your way up to holding one minute at a time.


Side Plank


Repeat on each side 2x for 10 to 60 seconds


1. Start by lying on your side. Place your elbow directly under your shoulder and stretch your legs out straight. Engage your abdominal muscles and lift your hips off the ground.


You can balance on your knees and elbow (easiest), your hand and knees (medium difficulty) or your hand and side of the foot (most difficult).

2. Your body should form a straight line, from your shoulder to your knees (or feet). Hold for 10 seconds then switch sides. Progressively work up to 60 seconds per side using proper body alignment.

***Optional – You can lift up the free hand to form a ‘T’ with the body. This makes the exercise more challenging. ***


Modified Crunch


Repeat 2x for 10 seconds.

1. Lying on your back, bend one knee and keep the other leg out straight. 2. Place your hands, palms down, under the arch of your low back. 3. Lift your elbows off the ground and engage your abdominal muscles. 4. Keep your neck in a neutral position by pretending you are holding an apple between your chin and chest. Slowly roll up so your shoulder blades are hovering approximately 1” off the ground. 5. Hold for 10 seconds. Repeat on the other leg


When we talk about warming up, we often think of a warm-up before physical activity. If you work in a physically demanding job, it is important to warm up and do light stretches before starting work. This helps decrease your chances of injury and prepares your body for physical work.

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