A healthy body is built by making the right choices at the right time. The bones and discs that form our spine slowly begin to degenerate in our 40s. As the body ages, this process of degeneration increases, causing symptoms such as pain. Pain is a symptom that signifies that something is radically amiss in our spinal cord system.
It is therefore key to strengthen our core muscles that support our spine and protect it from aging prematurely.
Core exercises can help us strengthen these core muscles. These exercises can be done at any age, by everyone.
Strengthening your core can take as much as 4 to 8 weeks to give you desired results. These should be done 4 times a week with additional functional activities such as walking, jogging, yoga or aerobic exercises.
Back strengthening exercises need to be started by keeping your spine in neutral position. Your lower back should be neither arched nor slouched. This ensures efficient training of core muscles.
Some of the best back strengthening exercises to do after 40 are as follows:
Planks need to be done by raising your body up on forearms and feet for one minute for 2 to 3 times. This engages abdominal muscles maximally.
You can also do a side plank to focus on oblique muscles. These need to be done for one minute for 2 to 3 times.
Bridging helps in strengthening buttock muscles and impact functional activities like walking and standing. Glut bridge is done by lifting buttock muscles, while keeping spine in neutral position. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat 10 times.
Arm and Leg Raise
On all fours, alternatively raise opposite arm and leg while keeping spine in neutral position. Hold for 10 counts and repeat 10 times. This helps in strengthening abdominal and back muscles.
Bent Leg Raise
On all fours (having both knees and hands on the ground), raise bent knee while keeping spine in neutral. Hold for 10 counts and repeat 10 times. This strengthens abdominal and buttock muscles.
Squats help in strengthening buttock and thigh muscles along with abdominal muscles. Squat while keeping back in a neutral position. Do not let your knees cross your toes. Hold for 10 counts and repeat 10 times.
T and Y raise
T and Y raise can be done either on a Swiss ball or on all fours. These help in strengthening upper back muscles. Hold for 10 counts and repeat 10 times.
Keeping spine in neutral, raise both legs up. You can support your back by keeping both hands by your side or under your lower back. Hold for 10 counts and repeat 10 times.
Tips for Exercising the Right Way:
- Warm up: Always spend time warming up to ensure your body is ready to exercise. Walking or jogging in place is a good way of warming up.
- Repetitions v/s holds: Understand which exercises require you to do more repetitions and which require hold time. Repetitions are meant to increase strength while timed exercises increase endurance.
- Small rest: Take very small rest periods in between each exercise to maximize efficiency of exercises.
- Stretches: Stretches help in reducing tension over individual muscles and reducing soreness. These need to be done 2 to 3 times for 20 seconds each.
- Strengthening & rehabilitation programmes are customised to your individual condition and must be followed under guided care to avoid injuries
- Strengthening exercises are not for people in pain. Consult a spine specialist, if you are in pain.
- Do not try at home without supervision. If you have back pain, pinched nerve or sciatica pain , you need to consult a physiotherapist or spine specialist to diagnose the pain before doing these exercises.
- Avoid exercise if you have constant numbness or pins and needles sensation in arms or legs.
- Avoid exercise if you have headache, nausea, vomiting, and dizziness.
- If any exercise causes/ increases back pain, stop immediately and consult your spine specialist.
(Dr. Shweta Wadhwa is a Spine Specialist at QI Spine Clinic)
(This story was auto-published from a syndicated feed. No part of the story has been edited by The Quint.)
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