The Most Crucial Exercise You Aren’t Doing
…It’s not what you think. I’ve thought long and hard about this. “If there was only one exercise I could have you do what what it be”? I know many other coaches would say something like squats, or push-ups or chin-ups. These exercises are great and do a lot of good. Others will probably tout doing planks-again, a great exercise, but it’s not the most crucial exercise for you to do.
To come up with the most crucial exercise,
I had to determine what would be the easiest to do, yield the biggest improvement and be specific to your needs, and have some solid scientific research behind it. Great news! This exercise has all these elements. This exercise:
- Requires no special equipment
- Science-based results
- Specifically combats your biggest issues
While I believe that motion is lotion, and anything is better than nothing, I have to recognize that your biggest concern is that you sit all day long. Either driving, or sitting at a computer for work, or reading. I’ve already written about how sitting will kill you, and low back pain is the #1 ailment in American adults. Sitting is the biggest culprit of this pain you’re most likely experiencing.
Researchers have also found that when your lower back arch decreases-when happens when you sit or slouch-your probability of low back pain increases (Chun et al, Spine J, 2017). Researchers have also found that when your lower back muscles are weaker than your abs this condition predicts and is associated with lower back pain (Lee, et al 1999 Spine; Ito et al, Arch Phys Med Rehabil, 1996).
The Most Crucial Exercise: The Back Extension Hold
This is the most crucial exercise you should be doing, if nothing else. It will help strengthen your lower back, retrains your body to have that natural arch in your lower back and reverses the position you’re stuck in for 40 hours/week for 30+ years. Essentially, it’s reversing the position/posture you hang out in for most of the day-which is harmful.
The goal is to be able to hold this position for 2-3 minutes.
How to Work Your Way Up
If you can’t hold a full back extension for any significant time, you can try a few of these tricks to make it easier.
- Have your arms by your hips-but still off the ground
- Lift either your upper half (chest & arms) or lower half (legs) in the air
- If you struggle getting over 30 secs, try holding for 5-10 secs at a time. Rest for 2-5 secs before holding another 5-10 secs. Work on increasing the repetitions you do.
- If all of these still are working, regress to the bird bog exercise and do repetitions in 10 sec holds.