Do you have back and spine pain? If so, you’re not the only one.
Back pain is the most frequent complaint that doctors hear from their patients. And there’s a reason why — many people aren’t taught to keep their spine healthy or perform certain exercises that ease back pain. So by the time you visit a doctor or chiropractor, you’ll have to learn how to keep your spine healthy.
Fortunately, keeping your spine healthy will result in less pain and fewer complications in the long term. If you’re new to spinal fitness, here are some ways to keep your spine healthy, including essential spinal exercises.
Why S-Shape Posture Is Necessary
Before we go into the different exercises, let’s discuss posture and lower back curvature, and why these are necessary for spinal health.
When you view proper spinal posture from the side, it makes an S-shape. In other words, the upper back bows outward, yet the lower back curves slightly inward. S-shaped posture is the best form for spinal health. Your spine will stay upright, and there’s minimal force on the spine’s joints.
But how many people have this posture? Let’s put it this way, 50% – 80% of Americans complain about back pain, and poor posture is one of the biggest contributors. From sitting at work all day to looking down at your phone, there are various reasons why we have bad posture.
How does bad posture cause back pain and decrease spine health? All of your joints need to work since the center of mass is far from the anterior of the joints. This takes a lot more energy than proper posture.
You can use spinal health products to support the back during exercise, strengthening your back and improving your posture. We will cover two of them here: the PowerCushion and Neck Shaper.
Why Exercise With a PowerCushion and Neck Shaper?
When you perform these exercises, you’ll want to use specific equipment to ensure you keep your spine in an S-shape. One of the best pieces of equipment to use is a PowerCushion.
The PowerCushion was first introduced in the 1980s. Professional football players began training with this device at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
The main goal of the PowerCushion is to improve posture during training. Players perform specific exercises with the PowerCushion to improve their posture and strengthen their back muscles while playing.
You can use the PowerCushion on just about any exercise on the floor. You’ll lay your lower back against the flat side of the PowerCushion.
When you lean back into the cushion, it will support your back while creating slight tension in your abdominals. This will help strengthen your back and abdominal muscles, providing more support for your spine.
The Neck Shaper is ideal for exercising the neck. It provides support and makes it easy to perform the neck flexion. We will cover this more in a later section.
Choosing a PowerCushion
The PowerCushion is available in different densities. To ensure you choose the right one, go by the density that fits your expertise level. These varying density levels are color-coded for easy identification.
Green is the softest PowerCushion. This product is recommended for beginners and those who are elderly, injured, and have severe soreness and stiffness.
This is medium density. If you used the green PowerCushion and think it’s too soft, the blue one may be ideal. The blue PowerCushion is ideal for everyone, no matter their age. However, everyone should try the green cushion first to ensure they can comfortably perform spine exercises on the softest density.
This has the firmest density. The black PowerCushion is the best solution for athletes wanting to improve their posture and overall athletic ability. Football players commonly use it during training, but all athletes can experience many benefits when training with the black PowerCushion.
How does the black PowerCushion enhance athletic ability? The cushion supports the user’s back, going through an extensive range of motion. Your back will be stronger, and you’ll have better support when training and playing sports.
Exercises to Do for a Healthy Spine
What if you’ve had bad posture for years? It’s not too late to improve your spine health and use better posture. Here are a few exercises that can improve your mobility, strength, and, ultimately, your posture.
While a sit-up is an exercise famously known for strengthening the abdominals, they also build strength in your lower back. A sit-up is easy. Start by lying on your back with your feet flat on the ground. Lift your upper body, feeling the lift in your abdominals. Lower back down slowly and repeat.
It’s best to perform this exercise with another person holding your feet to ensure your lower body doesn’t move. However, you can use a fulcrum such as the PowerCushion to stabilize your body. Using a fulcrum also ensures safety, keeping your spine in the proper S-shape posture.
Those who sit constantly will benefit from the pelvic tilt. This stretch stretches your lumbar spine and supports your core, which will improve your posture. We recommend you perform this stretch with a PowerCushion.
Position the PowerCushion low on the back, ensuring the glutes are on the rounded part of the cushion. Place a weight on the pelvis, ideally with a partner holding it in place. Use any size weight you can comfortably lift.
To do the stretch, lift your pelvis toward the upper trunk. Keep your upper body stabilized during the lift. Go back to starting position and repeat this motion for 5-10 reps.
When it comes to spinal problems, many people forget to exercise the neck. Our neck also suffers abuse from staring at screens and strain from improper sitting positions. Exercising the neck can improve posture, correcting many spinal issues.
This is where the neck flexion comes in. To do this stretch, start by using the Neck Shaper. This device fits on the forehead and chin, with a grabbable bar to apply force (though this is optional).
To use this device, move your head back gently. If you’re using the bar, apply gentle force. Move your chin slowly back to starting position. Repeat.
Back extensions stretch the spine and the spinal muscle group, known as the erector spinae. When you do a back extension, you start in a neutral position lying face down on the floor, followed by lifting with the top half of your body as well as your legs.
You can do this exercise by lying flat on the floor with your hands either underneath your chin or your palms flat on the floor near your chest and your elbows at your sides (ideal for beginners). Lift your legs and chest and hold for about 10 seconds.
If it’s more comfortable, you can use a device such as a PowerCushion to assist your back muscles.
The figure-four stretch stretches not only your back but also your hips and glutes. This is an ideal stretch if you have lower body pain and tightness. In addition, stretching your hip flexors can offer many benefits to your spine.
Start by lying flat on your back, ideally on a yoga mat. You can also do this stretch while on a PowerCushion for additional support.
Start by crossing your left ankle over the top of the opposite (right) knee. Grab the back of the right knee and bend your leg, moving your leg closer to your chest. Hold and switch sides.
Knee to Chest Stretch
Lie with your lower back on the Power Cushion with your legs and arms at your side. Bend one knee and move it closer to your chest. Cup your bent knee with your hands to move it closer to your chest (you can also place your hands behind your knee).
Repeat with the other leg.
Back Flexion Exercise
This is another exercise you can do on the PowerCushion. Start by resting your lower back on the PowerCushion. Bring both of your knees to your chest and lift your head, so your forehead touches your knees.
You’ll feel a gentle stretch in your back and neck.
How Often Should You Perform These Exercises?
This advice varies by individual. Make sure you seek advice from your doctor or trainer. However, we’ll provide general recommendations that a beginner can follow.
As long as you don’t experience discomfort, you can do these exercises daily. Make sure you start with 5-10 reps per exercise.
Once you’re comfortable, you can increase the repetitions. This is important because your muscles will become used to lifting and stretching a certain amount. Increasing the repetitions will increase muscle strength and flexibility.
When you get to this point, increase your repetitions little by little. The average person can comfortably do 25-50 repetitions, while athletes can usually perform 50-100 repetitions.
Try Spinal Fitness Today
Are you sick of suffering from back pain? If so, spinal fitness can relieve your pain and improve your posture by achieving the proper S-curvature of the spine. But before you do so, you’ll want to use spinal fitness equipment to correct the curvature of your spine.
Dr. John S Scherger developed many innovative products to help with this, such as the PowerCushion and Neck Shaper. Are you interested in trying these products? Shop with us today.