Keeping Fit During The Winter Months (PART 2)
In our previous blog we covered some great indoor exercises for the neck, especially useful during those long cold winter months. In this blog, we will focus our attention on lower back stretching and strengthening.
Once again, exercises for the lower back can be performed at least once daily in order to help to maintain and prevent deconditioning. Equal attention should be paid to both the core musculature and the lower back postural muscles as both work in an antagonist and protagonist relationship. This means to say that as the abdominal musculature contracts, the postural lumbar paraspinal musculature must relax and vice versa.
Most of these exercises are based on yoga poses so the similarities are obvious. The initial exercise is the 'Cat/Camel' which helps in the flexibility of the core and lower back musculature. Following this, 'Spinal Flexion' can be performed on an exercise ball. As I mentioned in the previous blog, an exercise ball can be purchased inexpensively but is immensely useful. Just make sure that the ball diameter is proportional to your overall height.
'Seated Flexion' is a simple exercise that can be performed even at a work desk - just make sure that you hold the posture for the recommended amount of time. 'Hamstring Stretch' is done with a belt around your foot. Extend the leg you are stretching to a full 90 degrees but in some cases this may be too much so start at 45 degrees or 60 degrees and gradually work your way up to the 90 degrees.
The 'High Lunge' is also a great lower back exercise. The most important thing to remember is to keep your back as straight as possible so try the exercise in front of a mirror and place your hands on the sides of your waist instead of your leading leg as shown in the diagram.
'Bridge' is done by lying on your back with your knees bent to 90 degrees and then you lift your pelvis off the floor, keeping your body in a straight line. Hold this posture for at least 4 seconds, repeating it 15 to 20 times overall.
'Abdominal Hollow' or 'Heel Slide' focuses on maintaining your abdominal musculature contracted as you let one leg slide out to be perfectly straight. Once again hold to 4 seconds and alternate to the opposite side.
In the final exercise, 'Quadruped Arm Raise/Leg Drag', you are on your hands and knees and you extend one arm to a straight position as you extend the opposite leg. Maintain a full extension for at least 4 seconds and repeat this 12 times on each side.
Check out these exercises here.
In closing, these indoor exercises are a great way to prevent your muscles from deconditioning during those cold winter months, even if skiing and skating are not your thing.