Pink Lady® Core series 6 - back strain from lifting heavy objects
In this final instalment of Pink Lady® Core series 6, Pilates instructor and certified personal trainer, Jane Linden-Brown, demonstrates functional fitness exercises to combat back strain that occurs when lifting heavy objects.
Why functional fitness?
We often think of strength in terms of bulging muscles and lifting large weights, so it’s easy to assume that you need to hit the gym to develop core strength, but that’s not the case. Functional fitness exercises train your muscles to work together and prepare them for daily tasks by simulating common movements you might do at home, at work or in sports. These exercises engage your core and body weight through low-impact workouts that engage your muscles in an efficiently strong but gentle way, requiring you to use new breathing techniques and movements that truly re-shape your body.
How to combat back strain from lifting heavy objects
Whether we’re carrying large bags of groceries or a laundry basket filled with clothes, we all risk creating back strain when lifting heavy objects. It’s important to strengthen and stabilise the spine so that we can take on these everyday tasks comfortably and without doing any damage to our bodies.
- A resistance band
- Barre or banister
- Pilates or yoga mat
Exercise one: Standing plank with band
The standing plank with a band is an anti-rotation exercise. The goal is to resist the rotational force that the band places on the spine, which will help to build stability and strength of the spine.
- Loop your resistance band through your barre or banister to anchor it.
- Stand at 90 degrees to the barre or banister with your feet parallel and hip distance apart.
- Pick up the band and hold it securely in both hands. Keeping your back straight turn your body to face straight forward. You will need to stretch the band and work your core muscles in order to hold it still in front of your chest bone. Try to keep your back in its natural curves throughout and your feet still. If it feels too easy, step further away from the anchor point.
- Slowly extend your hands forward to straighten your arms, and then return your hands to your chest.
- Repeat this movement three or four times, then return the band to the barre or banister and rest.
Exercise two: Superman
Like the previous exercise, the superman is an anti-rotation and spine stability exercise. It also challenges shoulder stability and balance, making it a little trickier than the previous exercise.
- Position yourself on all fours on the mat, with your knees bent, legs hip distance apart and your arms straight, and your hands directly under your shoulders.
- Keeping your back straight and your neck and head aligned, extend your left arm forward.
- Then carefully extend your right leg behind you, raising it slowly from the floor.
- Hold for a couple of seconds, trying to keep your spine level and your waist long, before returning to your starting position.
- Next, extend your right arm, followed by your left leg, and hold.
- Repeat three or four times.
Exercise three: plank
The goal of any plank exercise is to maintain the neutral position of the spine against the downward challenge of gravity. A ‘neutral spine’ is the spine in a straight position. A straight spine is the spine in its strongest position, making it less vulnerable to injury. Any plank exercise takes a lot of core control. Having the ability to hold the spine in neutral against a load or gravitational force will reduce the risk of injury and back pain.
- Position yourself on all fours on the mat, with your knees bent, legs hip distance apart and your arms straight, shoulder width apart.
- Extend your legs straight, stepping onto your toes and hold for a few seconds. Use your glutes and abdominals and back muscles to stop your spine from moving away from neutral. You should aim not to arch your lower back or let your ribs drop towards the mat. Build up slowly until you can hold the plank position for 30 seconds.
- Return to your preferred resting position.
To perfect your plank head here!
We hope you’ve enjoyed this latest series of Pink Lady® Core. To take a look at all Pink Lady® Core exercises head here.