Back pain is not only uncomfortable but could also inhibit you from performing your daily activities. While there are many ways to manage back pains, exercising is one of the best because it helps strengthen and stretch your muscles.
One of the most effective exercises is lunges. While many people consider lunges for strengthening their legs, it is perfect for helping you deal with back pain. It focuses on loosening the hips and legs muscles which could tense up with time and cause back pains.
How To Do Lunges
While it is vital to incorporate lunges into your daily workout routine, it is more important to do it properly. That ensures that it targets the right muscles and helps you avoid injuring yourself in the process.
There are three common variations of lunges that you can try to eliminate back pain, the basic kneeling lunge, standing lunge, and low lunge twist stretch.
This exercise focuses on relaxing the hip and back muscles. To perform a proper kneeling lunge;
1. Stand with your upper body straight, chin up, and shoulders relaxed.
2. Have one leg in front of the other, and lower your hips until both knees are at a 90-degree angle. Ensure that your back remains straight, your knees align with your ankles and that the other knee is not touching the floor.
3. When you feel a stretch at the front of the lower leg, hold that position for a few seconds, then stand and repeat depending on how much your back can handle.
4. Switch feet and repeat.
Start by performing few lunges and holding for a few seconds, then increase the intensity with time as your back gets better.
- Having your feet close to the centreline – When your feet are too close, you start to crossover as if balancing on a tightrope. That makes it hard for you to balance, target the right muscles, and adds extra stress to your knees and hips.
To prevent this, ensure that you have your feet at hip-width and as you get into the lunge, align the working foot with that hip and not the other foot.
- Not paying attention – Sometimes, you find yourself doing the lunges mindlessly, and as a result, you do not activate the correct muscles. Always step into lunges slowly, take control, and hold the position for a few seconds before getting back up.
- Letting the front knee go over your toes – This increases the stress on your knee joints, which over time causes knee pain and discomfort. If this happens, consider widening your stance but don’t shift a lot of weight to the back leg.
- Letting the front knee collapse – When your front knee collapses inward, that decreases the effectiveness of the luges and increases the likelihood of knee pain later. While getting into the Lunge, Your Front Knee Should Be In Line With Your Shoelaces.
Standing Lunge Stretch
This exercise targets the hip flexors, which include the psoas muscles, which help you reduce the effects of sitting for a long time or tight hips as a result of exercises like cycling. The standing lunge lengthens those muscles, providing a range of motion and flexibility.
To perform the perfect standing lunge stretch;
1. Stand straight with your legs hip-width apart.
2. Have your left foot forward and your right foot straight back.
3. Bend your left knee until it forms a 90-degree angle, with your right foot still straight back.
4. Keep your shoulders relaxed, chest open, hips even, head up, and have your hands on the forward left knee.
5. Press your hands down and push your hips forward till you feel the front of your right groin, hip, and thigh stretch.
6. Hold the stretch for around 30 seconds, then release. Do this a few times, then repeat on the opposite leg and perform according to how much your back can handle.
- Wrong knee position – Keep your forward knee behind or above your ankle. Sometimes, your knees may also cave in. to avoid that, move via the hip extensions instead of arching your back and always have the rear leg straight.
- Bouncing- Instead of lengthening the muscles, this could tug on the muscles and tendons. It could also tear your muscles that form scars as they heal, making your muscles less flexible and stiffer. To avoid this, always use smooth and slow movements.
- Using too much force to press down with your hands – This puts extra pressure on your ligaments, tendons, and insertion points, which increases your chances of injury and overstretching.
- Holding your breath – Ensure that you exhale as you get into the stretch and inhale as you relax to help deepen the stretch.
Low Lunge Twist Stretch
This exercise works on the lower back, psoas, and hip flexors and is a good way to open your hips. Even though you have time for sports, sitting for too long causes tight muscles, which you could reduce using this exercise.
Steps to performing a perfect low lunge twist stretch
1. Stand with your upper body straight and head up.
2. Get into the kneeling lunge position with your left leg forward and the right knee on the ground.
3. Place your left elbow on the inside of the left knee
4. Gently press the left elbow into your left knee, then slowly twist your torso to the right.
5. Stretch your right arm behind you till you feel a slight stretch around your left groin and lower back.
6. Hold the position for around 30 seconds, release it, and do that several times. Finally, exchange the legs and do the same on the other side.
- Bouncing – Like in the standing lunge stretch, bouncing or jerky movements could cause your muscles to tear and result in muscle imbalances. To avoid this, always use smooth and slow movements.
- Forcing it – Don’t force the stretch, and always pay attention to how your body moves and feels. Only stretch up to the extent your muscles can handle, and don’t apply too much pressure.
Before doing any lunges, you should warm up your muscles because stretching cold muscles could cause injuries. Some of the things you can do to warm up include jumping jacks, side-stepping, skipping, or jogging in place.
If you already have chronic pains in your lower back or hip muscles, it becomes to perform lunges, which could keep you from doing them. However, to make it easier, some of the steps you can follow to make it easier include;
1. Lower your body as if doing a half squat.
2. Depending on the comfort or level of your endurance, hold that position for a few seconds.
3. Get back to a standing position and repeat that until it becomes easy for you, and then you can start doing the lunges.
Benefits Of Lunges
- Increased core strength and stability
- Strengthens your legs and glute muscles
- Gives you better balance
- Increases your hip flexibility and range of motion
- Boost your spinal health
- Impacts your natural daily movements, which makes you more functional
If you perform any type of lunges and you experience any pain, you should stop and consult your chiropractor. Also, if you are a beginner, consider consulting an experienced trainer.
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