Fitness fast: Back exercises at home
During work hours, it is important to activate the back muscles with easy-to-to exercises. This is especially important in the longer term. We recently introduced you to four back exercises that fit nicely into the routine of day-to-day work. The following four exercises, on the other hand, are custom tailored for the home environment. They require movements and positions that wouldn’t exactly suit the code of conduct at work. Indeed, the first exercise involves lying down, which probably wouldn’t go towards earning you a promotion. We hope that you have fun and wish you and your back all the best!
Constant dripping wears away the stone
As with our office exercises, it is more important to repeat each home exercise regularly rather than for a large number of repetitions. It is consistency that counts. If you have difficulty repeating an exercise for the allocated number of repetitions, you might prefer to do one half of the exercise in the morning and the other half at night. It is not sitting in itself that contributes most to back pain but the lack of activity to break up a sedentary lifestyle. For example, three quarters of Germans state that they experience back pain at least once a year. In many cases, this pain is not caused by skeletal or other diseases but by muscle tension or stiffness that can be attributed to insufficient activity.
If you don’t have time for regular exercise, you should at least include some basic back exercises and frequent postural changes into your everyday routine. Doctors generally make reference to the 50/25/25 formula. This denotes that half the workday should be spent sitting down, a quarter standing and a quarter doing some kind of activity. After you’ve clocked off for the day, consider stretching to loosen your muscles. Also, don’t ignore the health benefits of taking the stairs rather than the elevator to integrate some exercise after hours. As with all forms of exercise, stop if and when any exercise causes you discomfort or pain. If you are unsure whether to avoid a particular type of exercise due to a pre-existing condition, consult your general practitioner. The following section provides exercises that require practically no equipment, except a solid floor and perhaps a yoga mat or blanket.
Exercise one: Freestyle on dry land
Loosen your muscles by taking a few slow steps across the room. Now lie down flat on your belly. A blanket or yoga mat is a good idea, but it is not a requirement. You are lying flat on the floor with your arms stretched out in front of you. Gently raise your left arm and your right leg off the floor. Keeping your gaze focused on the floor, hold this position for between 15 to 30 seconds. Now relax your left arm and right leg, and raise your right arm and left leg off the floor. Repeat this exercise five times.
Exercise two: Beetle on its back
Roll over onto your back. Make sure that you are lying flat on the floor, but don’t press your spine against the floor either. Now pull your knees towards your chest and create a right angle between your thighs and calves. Hug your shins and lift your head and shoulders off the ground. Hold this tension for ten to fifteen seconds and then take a short break. Repeat this exercise three times in total.
Exercise three: Ski jump
Turn back onto your belly and prop yourself up onto your hands and knees. Stretch your arms out straight, your shoulders above your wrists and your knees below your hips. Breathe slowly and gently move your upper body back until your buttocks touch your feet. Your hands remain fixed in their original position during the whole exercise. Try to stretch out your back and feel the tension release. Inhale slowly and return to the starting position. Repeat this exercise three to five times.
Exercise four: Fly like superman!
Lie flat on your belly and stretch your arms out in front of you (like in exercise one). Breathe in and out gently. As soon as your breathing becomes calm and regular, tense your stomach muscles, back and buttocks. Rest your feet on the ground—your toes should be perpendicular to the floor—and gently raise your upper body. Your head and neck muscles should remain as loose as possible; your gaze should be focused on the floor. Hold the tension for at least ten seconds and then release the tension and lower your upper body to the floor. Repeat this exercise up to ten times.
If you are already working on your fitness through simple exercises at work, heed a word of caution. To start with, too much exercise can be too much of a good thing, and it can give rise to serious muscle soreness. Consider increasing the number of your daily exercises bit by bit and spread them out over the day. And finally, do not overexert yourself by doing too many repetitions. Nobody would think to run a marathon without proper training. Even if the exercises do not appear difficult, give your muscles time to build up.