Some exercises have enormous impact on injury prevention. In my case, many have also proven to domesticate joint pain that had previously plagued me for years.
The lumbar (lower back) and knees had particularly given me much grief, being such integral components to most movement. Therefore it makes great sense to reinforce these areas.
Fortunately, plenty of exercises and stretches exist for the deed. Many demand but minutes of your day.
I’ll share the greatest hits in my bag of exercises. While I perform many others, I find these irreplaceable.
Take note, there’s hardly an exercise or stretch on this list that I do daily. I merely make effort to address each a few days a week, spread out between different days.
But I do something nearly daily. Yesterday, for instance, arriving in my lodgings in Santiago, Chile, after a nearly 12-hour journey between the flight and the endless public transport connections to and from airports, I still performed a routine of stretches and some squats.
I may occasionally permit myself the luxury of missing a day, although I don’t recommend it. Consider it folly if your joints have not yet become exceptionally fortified, and habits maintained for a long time.
Anyway, let’s proceed.
Superman. This is where you lie on the stomach and sustain your torso exclusively on your abdominals. Meanwhile, outstretch your arms and legs, elevating them upwards as high as you can manage. Maintain this pose for 30-60 seconds for a few sets.
Gravity is not your friend here. Your abdominals are.
This fortifies at least the lower back, the glutes, but also doubles as a shoulder stretch.
If challenging, you can gradually transition from a lighter variant where you alternate outstretching the opposite arm and leg pairs.
Downward/upward dog and cobra positions. This duo forms part of classic Hatha Yoga salutations. You effectively alternate between an inwardly and outwardly bent (90-degree angled) torso positions.
For the first, maintain your 90-degree bent torso on all fours, like a canine, keen on firm back posture. This is also known as the mountain pose.
For the advanced variant, holding the position, elevate one of the legs as high as manageable, ideally to the altitude parallel with your back frame. Later alternate with the other leg. The position should somewhat resemble a small Greek lambda: λ.
For the cobra, lie downwards on your stomach, lifting your torso perpendicular to the ground, sustained by the arms. Focus on the posture.
Maintain each unique movement for at least 30 seconds.
Abdominals. No specific exercises mentioned here, but fortified abdominals are absolutely paramount to reinforcing the lower back. With neglected abdominals, you could not even properly execute most exercises here, effectively rendering your endoskeleton out of balance.
Since the last two years I’ve simplified abdominal maintenance to an intense and comprehensive 10-15 minute session one day per week.
Squats. I perform mostly bodyweight variants, although the weighted carry additional benefit. Emphasize slow and controlled motions. Descend only as far down as you can maintain adequate control.
These play a powerful role in fortifying not only all that lower body musculature, but also the lower back. Again, do not neglect the abdominals.
Resting squat. See my previous post.
Lateral leg raises. I perform these either standing (grabbing hold of a chair or pole), or lying down on the side. Choose a leg and slowly raise it to the side of your torso, as far as to a 90-degree angle. Direct the motion slightly behind, emphasizing the glute area. Briefly hold the position, then slowly return the leg towards the ground. Repeat for three sets of 10 reps for each leg.
Questions, comments? Connect.