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Top Ways To Enhance Your Deep Spinal Stabilizer Muscles

Did you ever catch yourself seated—be it working, dining, perusing, or resting—and paused to analyze how dreadful your positioning is? Trust me, I am not alone in this. Nowadays, there are chair cushions, posture-correcting bras, and gadgets for posture training available to help guide people on how to retract their shoulders and sit upright. However, relying on these aids can quickly drain one’s finances. Fortunately, exercises that focus on your erector spinae (or deep back muscles) come without any cost.

The erector spinae consist of a set of cord-like muscles that run alongside your spine. They play a significant role in stabilizing the back and enabling us to twist, bend, and stretch freely. Deidre Douglas, EdD, a Les Mills US presenter and instructor, highlights the importance of this muscle column in ensuring good posture.

So, the next time you are troubled by your slouched shoulders or the noticeable hump at the base of your neck and feel the urge to address it, take a moment to fortify your deep core stabilizers with some effective erector spinae exercises recommended by Dr. Douglas.

Prioritizing Strengthening the Erector Spinae

By this point, you understand the fundamentals: The erector spinae are crucial for maintaining good posture. But here’s why. “Poor posture weakens these muscles, thus reducing support when standing or sitting,” Dr. Douglas explains. “If these deep core muscles remain inactive, strained, or immobile for extended periods, discomfort and pain may emerge.”

Five Workout Routines for Strengthening the Erector Spinae

1. Bird dog

While typically known as an abdominal exercise, this move also benefits your back. Start on all fours in a tabletop position, aligning your knees under hips and hands under shoulders. Lift your right arm and left leg while upholding a neutral spine—maintaining a natural arch in both your lower and upper back. Keep your shoulders and hips parallel to the ground as you extend your limbs, with the back of your neck elongated and chin slightly tucked downwards. Pause for a few seconds, focusing on breathing. Return to the initial position and repeat on the opposite side. Dr. Douglas recommends alternating sides for two to three sets of eight to twelve repetitions for optimal relief.

2. Superman

Though not the most anticipated exercise, Dr. Douglas deems this movement crucial for the wellness of your erector spinae and overall posture. Lie face down on the floor with legs straight and arms stretched forward. Slowly elevate both arms and legs a few inches off the ground, ensuring your back muscles, not limbs, do the work. Hold the position briefly before lowering back down. Repeat this action for eight to twelve reps.

3. Seated good morning

You can positively impact your erector spinae even while seated. Position yourself on a bench or chair with hands interlocked behind your head, elbows wide. Engage your core by pulling your belly button towards the spine, then gradually lean forward at the hips until your upper body is parallel to the floor. Maintain the natural curve of your lower back by sticking out your buttocks, avoiding rolling your shoulders forward or resting your chin on the chest. Pause momentarily before returning to the initial position. Aim for two to three sets of eight to twelve reps as advised by Dr. Douglas.

4. Child’s pose

(Demo at 5:40)

While child’s pose is commonly a soothing yoga position during intense vinyasa flows, it is also beneficial for mobilizing the erector spinae. Start on all fours, then extend your palms forward past the shoulders. Maintain straight arms as you widen the knees, push the hips back, sit on the heels, and lower the chest towards the floor. Relax your shoulders towards the ground, aiming to touch the forehead to the floor. “Rest in this position for a suitable duration,” Dr. Douglas advises, recommending 45 to 90 seconds as ideal. “Repeat as necessary for comfort.”

5. Seated child’s pose

Looking for a desk-friendly routine? Dr. Douglas suggests seated child’s pose for fortifying and soothing the erector spinae. “Sit on a chair or bench with knees and feet hip-width apart or slightly wider,” she directs. “Lower your torso and forehead between the knees. Extend your arms toward the floor between the feet or alongside the legs, with hands resting on the floor or thighs.” Relax in this position until you experience relief. Typically, 45 to 90 seconds are adequate.

A Final Thought

“The erector spinae muscles play a vital role in supporting our upright posture daily,” Dr. Douglas emphasizes. “Given the prolonged sitting and forward-slouching habits prevalent among many, these muscles are prone to weakening. Strengthening these core muscles is crucial to maintain their health and flexibility, allowing us to move freely in our everyday activities.”

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