Back and Neck Exercises
Strengthening exercises are specifically designed physical activities that improve muscle strength and flexibility . Strengthening exercises help an individual lose body fat, gain muscle mass, muscular endurance and ensure a healthy body.
Back strengthening exercises.
Back strengthening exercises are designed to improve strength, endurance and flexibility of the back muscles. These include specific exercises for the back and abdomen. Forward and backward activities of the spine require strong back and abdomen muscles to counter balance the movement of the spine.
Position: Lying on the back
Lie on the back and keep the knees flexed. Keep the feet and palms flat on the floor. Tighten the abdominal muscle to maintain neutral position of the spine. This is the starting position for back exercises.
Lie on the back with knees bent. Keep the feet flat on the floor and arms at the sides. Now, gradually raise the hips little by little. Remember to raise the hips without arching the back. Tighten the stomach to avoid pushing out of the stomach which may tend to arch the back. Hold the position for 5 seconds. Afterwards, slowly come back to the starting position. Repeat the technique five times. The Bridge-up exercise helps to strengthen buttock muscles.
Lie on the back with flexed knees. Keep the feet flat on the floor and arms at the sides. Cross the arms loosely over the chest. Tighten the abdomen and curl halfway up. Keep the middle and lower back flat on the floor and raise the head and shoulders from the floor. Hold the position for a few seconds and then return to the relaxed position. Repeat the technique for five times. The partial curl-up exercise strengthens the abdominal muscles.
Lie on the back and keep the knees bent. Keep both feet and shoulders flat on the floor. Gradually drop the knees to one side and turn the head in the opposite direction. Hold the position for 20 seconds and gradually come to the previous position. Repeat the technique three times. The trunk rotation exercise strengthens the lower back muscles.
Position: Lying on the stomach
Lie on the floor facing down. Keep the feet slightly apart and forehead on the floor with arms bent at the elbow above the head. Push the body up on the forearms while keeping the neck straight. Lift the abdomen away from the floor. Hold for 20 seconds and slowly come back to the relaxed position. Repeat the exercise 3 to 5 times. The press up exercise strengthens the lower back muscles.
Opposite arm and leg raise.
Lie face down, forehead on the floor and keep the arms above the head without flexing the elbows and wrists. Slowly lift the arm and the opposite leg, and tighten the lower back and buttock muscles. Hold for 2 seconds and come back to the starting position. The technique is practiced with the other arm and its opposite leg as well. Repeat the procedure with each arm for 3 to 5 times. This exercise targets your core and lower back.
Superman or swimming.
Lie on the stomach, forehead on the floor and keep the arms above the head without bending the elbows and wrists. Gradually lift both arms and legs from the ground. Tighten the lower back and muscles of the buttocks. Hold the position for 2 seconds and come back to the starting position. Repeat the exercise for 10 times. This exercise also targets your lower back.
Position: On hands and knees.
4. Cat stretch.
Keep the body in a crawling position. Evenly distribute the body weight on the hands and knees. Gradually tighten the abdominal and buttock muscles, and press the back upward. Let the head drop forward. Hold the position for five seconds. Now slowly relax the abdominal and buttock muscles, lift the head and bring back the spine to normal position.
Once again tighten the muscles of the abdomen and buttock and press the back downwards. Move the head forward and upward. Hold the position for five seconds. Now slowly relax and come back to the normal position.
Repeat the process 10 times. The Cat stretch exercise strengthens core and lower back muscles.
Keep the body in crawling position and distribute the body weight evenly over the hands and knees. Raise one arm straight out in front. Do not raise head and do not allow the supporting shoulder to drop. Tighten the abdominal muscles to prevent sagging of the trunk. Hold the position for five seconds and lower the arm. Repeat the process 10 times and alternate using the opposite arm. This is a core strengthening exercise.
Arm reach with leg reach.
With the body in crawling position, raise one leg straight back and extend the opposite arm straight forward. Avoid arching the back, or sagging the head or body. Tighten the abdominal muscles and hold for five seconds. Repeat the process 10 times and alternate using the other leg and its opposite arm. This exercise targets the core and low back.
Neck strengthening exercises.
Neck strengthening exercises are a group of exercises that are designed to improve muscle strength, endurance, and flexibility of the neck muscles. These exercises improve posture, relieve chronic or recurrent neck pain and radiating pain from the upper back and help prevent problems related to spinal discs.
In a comfortable sitting or standing position, keep the back and neck straight and shoulders slightly back. Slowly tuck the chin until a gentle stretch is felt over the cervical (neck) area. Keep the eyes and nose facing forward. Hold the position for 3 seconds. Repeat 10 times.
In a comfortable sitting or standing position, keep the back and neck straight. Similarly, keep the eyes and nose straight in the forward position. Place the palm of the hand onto the forehead and press the palm against the forehead. Now push the forehead against the palm with the help of neck muscles. Hold the position for three seconds and repeat the technique for 10 times.
Cup both palms and place at the back of the head. Now try to push the head forward with the palms and resist the movement by pressing the head back towards the palm with the help of neck muscles. Hold for three seconds and repeat for ten times.
Place the hand at the side of the head. Slowly push the head with the palm while resisting the force by the head with the neck muscles. Hold the position for three seconds and repeat for ten times.
Shoulder blade squeeze
This exercise can be initiated either in a sitting or standing position. Keep the chin slightly tucked in, bend the shoulders slightly back and elbows forward. Gradually squeeze the shoulder blades together and raise the elbows or lower arms up. Press the shoulder blades down towards the mid back. Hold the position for three seconds and repeat for ten times.
Muscles of the back and neck have many complex functions that control posture and movements of the back and neck. Strengthening exercises of these areas improve the strength, flexibility and endurance of the muscles and help to maintain general fitness of the body and prevent further problems related to the back and neck.