Everybody aches for those flat, lean abs that only trainers on television seem to achieve, but when we are so focused on that six-pack, we often forget about our back. Considered a part of the core, back strength is just as important as ab strength. With a strong, straight back, your torso will appear slimmer and your stomach flatter. Sit up straight, just like your mom always told you, and give your spine a little TLC with just a few exercises.
Cat and cow
This yoga sequence is simple, and warms up your back for more challenging exercises. Position yourself on your hands and knees with a flat back. Stabilize yourself better by tucking your toes under, then slowly create an arch in the back, like a cow. Roll the spine up until you have a curved back, like a cat.
Make like a snake
Cobra pose is another great one for the back. To do this, lie on your tummy and tighten your abs. With your forehead on the ground, place your hands on either side next of your ribs, and slowly lift up your head and chest. While doing this posture, don’t put too much pressure on your hands – the lifting action should come mostly from your back muscles, not your arms.
Love the hammys, too
Keeping your hamstrings nice and loose will make a huge difference in lower back stress. Grab a strap or towel for this move. While lying on your back, lift one leg into the air and try to keep the other on the ground. Wrap the strap over your foot and pull it toward your body until you feel a nice stretch down the back of the leg. You don’t have to straighten your leg completely! Keeping a bend in the knee is perfectly fine, especially if the legs are feeling tight.
Roll it up and stretch it out
Stretching is one of the most important ways to reduce back pain, especially after these moves! For a good stretch, lie on your back with your legs out in front of you. Bring one leg to your chest, holding it at the shin, and squeeze. Hold the pose for about five breaths and then switch legs.
If you can, try to keep the opposite leg straight on the ground in front of you. Then, raise both legs and squeeze them into your chest as tightly as possible. Try keeping the spine flat on the ground, then start rolling forward and back to massage the spine.
Incorporating these exercises into your daily routine will help strengthen and protect your back as well as alleviate back pain. Keep up with any other abdominal workouts you already do for a lean, strong core.