Strengthening Exercises

Example of Superman exercise

First in the series of "Fitness Minute With TuDor" Licensed Physical Therapist, Michael Farris demonstrates a simple but very effective set of exercises that can help strengthen the back muscles and improve overall posture in order to prevent pain and injury, allowing you to do what you enjoy!

Video Transcript

This is Michael Farris from TuDor Physical Therapy Centers in Austintown, Ohio with your fitness tip of the month. I want to talk about doing some exercises that help strengthen up your lower back and your postural strength. Hopefully everyone’s enjoying this summer performing yard work, landscaping, gardening, and walking in our wonderful parks and neighborhoods. When you’re doing those activities you may be experiencing some back pain. So I want to show you some exercises that help strengthen up those muscles and support your spine while you’re bent down in your garden. 

First, we’re going to show you a Prone Hip Extension. These are nice exercises you can do at home laying down on the ground with a pillow underneath the lower stomach pelvic region to reduce the strain on the lower back. Go ahead and lift up one of your legs and bring it down nice and slowly. If you experience any abnormal pain or pain shooting down one of your legs or numbness and tingling do not continue with this exercise. It is not a normal response, but it is normal to experience a little discomfort in your lower back with this exercise. Go ahead and repeat that. Lift it up, and when you lift this you don’t want to rotate your hips in this region. Just go nice easy and slow and lift your leg up and bring it down. Repeat this 10 times on each leg. Left and right. I would try that 10 times to see if that would cause any abnormal pain. See how you feel the next day in your back and lower extremities. If no abnormal symptoms precede the next day, then try two sets of ten repetitions. If that’s fine work yourself up to doing three sets of ten repetitions. If you can do that comfortably progress up to adding some ankle weights if you own any at home. Believe me, three pounds will be plenty enough resistance for doing these exercises.

Let’s say a viewer performed these exercises with no abnormal complaints. We can now progress up to phase two of this exercise improving the overall postural strength. You hold your arm straight out. You are going to lift up your left arm and your right leg at the same time like you’re swimming on the table and go back down nice and easy. If you’re not experiencing any abnormal symptoms down the legs or any severe intense back pain proceed, do ten of these. When you hit ten go ahead and switch over to the other arm and leg and proceed with that. Just like the other prone hip extension try doing ten repetitions in one day. The next day if you felt fine and no abnormal pain work up to doing two sets of ten and then three sets of ten. Great exercises! You’re hitting your entire back, upper, and lower back now support yourself.

If you went through phase two without any abnormal symptoms next we would lift up both legs and both arms. All four at the same time. Go ahead and do a superman. You’ll see this exercise on the internet described as a superman. You lift up and hold for a nice second or two contraction and go back down. This is an advanced exercise. Don’t be disappointed if you cannot progress to this exercise. But again these are the muscles that are going to strengthen up your back. Most of the activities you do at home, at work, out in the yard are forward or reaching forward for picking up things. We’re using more of our muscles in the front of our body than our back. Exercises like this would help balance out your body to have proper strength and stability to your spine. Also a side tidbit I even have my son who’s entering the eighth grade perform these exercises to help maintain his overall back strength when he’s running for cross-country and track. Notice yourself, if you run on the treadmill or jog on the treadmill,at your gym in the mirror to see if you have a forward lean, or if you notice your child running cross-country this upcoming fall if he or she is leaning forward. If they’re leaning forward they do have weakened back muscles. They need to perform these actions to help hold themselves more upright. If you are leaning forward it’s going to alter your stride length. You will not be able to run as fast or optimal as you can. These are great exercises. If you go to the YMCA or Planet Fitness, if they have a mat region, lay down and do these after the treadmill or the stationary bike.

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