One Small Habit: A Daily Exercise to Strengthen Your Back

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Back pain is such a common woe. I hear about it all the time from my friends, family, yogis and the ladies I personal train. It can be caused by many things, so if you're having severe back pain, don't be silly and fight through it-- go see a doctor. Hopefully you're not in that category, though. Many people suffer from chronic back pain that can be a simple as incorrect movement patterns (see my blog post with video tutorial on how to bend and hip-hinge correctly which is a major factor with back pain), or not activating the right muscle groups and leaving your spine supported in a less than sturdy way.In the spirit of this "column" of mine, here is ONE exercise you can do DAILY to help strengthen your back.

Strengthening your core is an important part of overall back health, so don’t ever skip that step. However, this ONE effective exercise is safe and gentle enough to do daily. It's called Bird Dog (also known as Balancing Table, or Spinal Balance). It’s great for strengthening the back because it calls on many back muscles to chip in and support the pose. It also strengthens the core, the legs, the shoulders, the arms, and even the wrists. It’s gentle enough to do every day and not risk over training. Starting by doing 10 at a time a few times a day. That would be a great start. I would recommend starting with something like Bird Dog over using weight machines if you’ve truly got a weak lower back. Weight machines are great if you know what to do, but they can also simply reinforce “bad” muscle patterns and imbalances if you’re not careful.How To Do Bird Dog/Balancing Table:

Read the bullet points (below) or just watch my video.

​•Start in All Fours pose, and place hands directly under the shoulders and the knees directly under the hips. Spread the fingers wide (like a starfish), and engage shoulders by pressing the floor away from you. You’ll want to keep that engagement going the entire time to protect your weight bearing shoulder(s) from injury.
•Pull in the core. Keep that the whole time, too. 🙂
•Breath in and reach the right leg straight back (not “up” but straight back), flexing the ankle and reaching through the heel. At the same time, reach the opposite arm (the left) forward, keeping the weight bearing shoulder active.
•Breath out, return to All Fours. Make sure you place your hands and knees correctly. You'll want to make sure that your hand is returned to the exact starting point (directly under the shoulder and fingers spread wide, with shoulder activation), so that it's now ready to support your weight safely as you prepare to do the other side.
•Now, do the other side. That’s 1 repetition.
•Breath with it, alternating sides.
•As you get the hang of it, be aware of your hip alignment, by 1) keeping them squared to the floor and 2) not rocking left and right, either.Hope this helps on your journey to a healthy back! Take care of your body, you only get one.

Love & Light.

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