You may work to sculpt strong arms or legs, but how often do you think about strengthening your spine? It’s natural to gravitate toward activities that give you results you can see, but neglecting this part of your body could contribute to poor posture, back pain or—over time—arthritis, osteoporosis or immobility.
The spine is not a muscle, but you can give it healthy reinforcement by working those that support it. We know that the best exercises are ones that you’ll do on a regular basis. That is why our experts at Canyon Ranch designed this easy routine, which can be completed in 15 minutes, anywhere and without any equipment.
Aim to do the full set of moves three times a week on nonconsecutive days. Remember: Practice makes permanent. The more you do them, the more likely they’ll stay a regular part of your fitness regimen.
Begin on your hands and knees. For cow position, exhale and round your spine up toward the ceiling (imagine pulling your belly button in toward your spine), tucking your tailbone and letting your head hang down as you do. For cat position, inhale and lower your belly, arching your back so that your tailbone and head lift up. Repeat 10 times, alternating between both positions.
Begin on your hands and knees with your back flat and your core engaged. Keeping your spine and hips motionless, inhale and lift your left arm and right leg off the floor, extending your arm in front of you and your leg behind so that each are in line with your back. Exhale as you lower them back down. Perform the same move with the opposite arm and leg. Repeat 10 times.
Lie face down on the floor with your legs extended and your hands under your shoulders (palms down). Press the tops of your feet and thighs into the floor. As you inhale, press your palms into the floor to straighten your arms and lift your chest. Engage your buttocks muscles without clenching them. Breathe comfortably as you hold this position for 15 to 30 seconds, then slowly lower yourself back down to the floor.
Modified Side Plank
Lie on your side with your knees bent. Bend the arm that is on the floor and rest the weight of your upper body on that forearm, lifting your torso, hips and thighs off the floor. Form a straight line from your knees to your shoulder, keeping your spine straight. Hold for 15 seconds. Add 5 seconds each week until you can hold the position for one minute.
Lie on your back with your legs bent. Keep your feet flat on the floor, parallel and hip-width apart. Rest your arms, palms down, at your sides. Exhale as you raise your hips toward the ceiling, engaging your buttocks muscles without clenching them, until your body forms a straight line from your knees to your upper back; engage your inner thighs to keep them parallel. Hold for five to 10 breaths, and then slowly lower your body back down one vertebra at a time, beginning with your upper back and finishing with your tail bone.