If you’re one of those people who like to hit the gym early in the morning, you might notice how stiff your back muscles are at the very beginning of your workout. As the weather gets colder this could become a potential problem.
When your muscles aren’t properly warmed up before an intense gym session, you risk injury, fatigue, and strained muscle fibers. This can cause pain and limit your movement, especially when it comes to future workouts. Here are some of the best exercises to help prepare your spine before the gym.
cat and cow
Start in a tabletop position with your wrists just below your shoulders and your knees just below your hips. Push the floor away from you by pressing your palms firmly into the floor and tuck your pelvis in to straighten your spine.
Engage your abdominal muscles and feel your lower back lengthen. Inhale and look up, dropping your belly. Create a big curve in your spine and stretch your whole body forward. Exhale and bend your spine the other way, bringing your chin towards your chest and feeling the space between your vertebrae expand.
Repeat five times and take it easy. Once you’re done, return to the starting position and reset your spine.
yoga towel mat
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Start by lying on your stomach, legs and feet together. Place the tops of your feet on the floor and push them down to feel the backs of your legs engaged. Place your palms next to your chest and on your inhale, push your upper body off the floor, but keep your pelvis on the floor.
Exhale and slowly lower back down, placing your forehead on the floor to reset your upper back. Repeat two more times, trying to lift yourself higher each time. The goal is to really use your back muscles to lift yourself up instead of just pushing yourself back with your arms.
Again, you start in a lying position with your stomach on the floor. You can keep your legs together or apart for this variation, but the important thing is to fully engage them. Place your arms along your body, palms facing each other. Inhale and lift your legs and arms into the air, going as high as you can, activating every muscle. Exhale and release.
You can repeat the same thing two more times or interlace your fingers behind your back and use the clasp as leverage to lift your upper body off the ground while lifting your legs at the same time. Exhale and release. Go slowly and don’t make sudden movements to avoid injury or strain.
Silicone grips keep you on your feet, while elastic straps and a low cut let you look cute while working out.
dog head up
You can start lying on the floor with your belly down, or in a plank position. Place both of your palms next to your chest and on your inhale, extend your arms and lift your whole body, threading your upper body through your arms, stretching your chest and looking up.
Push the tops of your feet into the floor and bring your hips as far back as possible. Look up and maybe even back a little to deepen your backbend. You can stay here or look slightly left then right to stretch your neck as well. After three long inhales and exhales, relax. Stay here or push your hips up and form an inverted V with your body to reset your spine.
After a few deep stretches, your back is already warmed up so it can go deeper into the backbends. Start in a lying position, belly down. Bend your knees and grab your feet from the inside. Extend your arms and on your inhale, use the power of your legs to lift up and back down. Exhale and release.
Repeat this operation two more times. Make sure to take your movements as slowly as possible to avoid injury or any pain in your back. Don’t push yourself too far and listen to your body. With each ascent, you will undoubtedly be able to go further.
Begin by entering a wide squat with your back fully straightened and extended. Open your hips as wide as is comfortable for you and bring your palms together. Press your palms together so you can use your elbows to open your hips even more. Straighten your spine and feel your lower back lengthen, using gravity to create space between the vertebrae.
Extra thick mat for all your favorite workouts.
Warm-ups are just as important as exercise, so be sure to do these exercises before any indoor workout to avoid injury or strain. Also, if you are preparing specifically for leg day, add these exercises to your routine!
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