Strengthening a Weak Back
By Lisa Stone, ACE
Q. I have a "weak" back since the birth of my son, and at times, have even thrown it out. Is there anything you can recommend doing in the home to strengthen it?
A. For a weak back, there are two muscle groups you should focus on: the back (duh!) and the abdominals. To strengthen the upper back, stand with feet a little wider than hip width, knees slightly bent, and abdominals pulled in tight. Bend slightly forward from the hips, keeping the back straight (i.e. no hunched shoulders!). Exhale as you pull your arms up toward your armpits in a rowing motion, squeezing your shoulder blades together, contracting the muscles of the upper back; inhale as you release the arms back down to your sides. You can add hand weights for more intensity as you get stronger. Start with three sets of 8-10 repetitions, and increase to 12-15 repetitions as you get stronger.
For the lower back, you will get into the same starting position as described above. When you lean forward from the hips, place your hands on your thighs for support. Be sure to keep your abdominals pulled in very tight! Take a deep breath in, and as you exhale lift your torso slightly, increasing the arch in your lower back. You should feel the muscles in the lower back contracting. Inhale as you return to the starting position. Again, start with three sets of 8-10 reps, increasing to 12-15 reps as you gain strength.