Fitness in Focus: Strengthening Your Spine

  • Almost anything you do requires a strong spine. Holding your head up requires strong neck muscles. Sitting at the computer all day requires a strong mid-back. Lifting a bag of groceries requires a strong low back. If the spine is fatigued or weak, injuries are more likely to happen.  Keeping the spine fit and able requires more than just core strength. A strong spine requires key muscle groups to have balanced strength.

     

    Starting from the top, the muscles in the front of the neck, the neck flexors, are often overpowered by the stronger counterparts in the back of the neck, the neck extensors. This imbalance causes the chin to drift up as the strong neck extensors overwhelm the system with tension. Strengthening the neck flexors helps to alleviate pain and tension in the back of the neck. Another weak muscle group that often needs strengthening to support the neck is the shoulder blade muscles that pull the blades together, called the rhomboid muscles. These critical muscles are often overpowered by the pectorals, the chest muscles that pull the shoulder blades apart. Rebalancing and strengthening certain key muscle groups that support the neck, creates a strong neck able to hold the head up high all day long.

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    In the mid-back, the long back extensor muscles help to keep you upright. These muscles often get fatigued and achy. The best exercises for keeping the mid-back strong are roman-chair exercises. If you don’t have a roman-chair, then lying prone on the exercise ball will do. These exercises move the body in the opposite direction of a sit-up, thus exercise the muscles that bend the trunk backwards, against gravity.

     

    Both the mid-back and low back benefit from a strong abdominal wall. In addition to the abdominal muscles, the lower part of the spine is much healthier when supported by strong buttock muscles too. Unfortunately, the buttock muscles tend to be the weakest, laziest muscles in the entire system because we sit on them all day long. Neglecting these muscles only causes more work for the low back when you walk, climb and lift. Add some butt-burning exercises into your routine in order to strengthen your spine from the bottom-up.

     

    A strong spine allows you to do more with less risk of injury. Balanced strength in key muscle groups is required from head to tail in order to hold your head up, sit comfortably, and lift. Maintaining that balance throughout your life will help you live a pain-free life. When muscles groups get out of balance, the entire system starts to fall apart. Signs that your spine needs strengthening include: frequent aches and pains, difficulty standing on one leg, and poor posture. Focus on strengthening you spine in order to regain and maintain the activity tolerance you need for your Olympic event called life.

Published On: May 26, 2014