Back injuries happen for various reasons. The most obvious is faulty breathing mechanics combined with the amount of sitting many people do at work and in everyday life. Sitting is one of the top five risks to human health on the planet. This sedentary behaviour can lead to overexertion, incorrect lifting techniques and carelessness when moving yourself or objects. Even walking can cause injury if not done properly, which is an underestimated risk by the general public. Also, being out of proper position usually means a lack of ability to engage the largest muscle group in your body: your glutes.  Below is a introductory protocol to reducing your risk of back injury (Note that anyone with a back injury should seek professional help first).

Breathing exercise - Lay down on your back with your hands at your sides and legs straight. Flex your glute muscles and bring your belly button into your spine while lowering your ribs. The head must stay flat on the floor. Breathe first into your stomach, then the lower back and finally bring the air into your upper back. Your exhale should be fast when you’re preparing for exercise, while during exercise when you are trying to relax your exhale should be long and drawn out. Learning to do this correctly can take a long time, so practice daily and do more research into the literature out there - it will make a massive difference in your back and overall health.

Walking - Head is directly over top of the spine with chin down. Shoulders are back but relaxed. Arms are at your sides with palms facing the body. Belly button is engaged but not drawn in a flexed position.  When striding, the feet point directly forward (not out like a duck). As steps are taken, the glutes are to be flexed at about 40% of a full contraction so that there is some “tone” with each movement. This will ensure that the muscles are working. Breathing is through the nose, into the belly and lower back and then moved through the upper back.

Banded Glute Movements - Use a circular band to wrap around your knees and do side steps, A-steps and hip raises in a tri-set circuit. Do 10-20 reps and 2-4 sets with no rest in between exercises.

Goblet Squat – An introductory squat that teaches balance and the technique for sitting back within the squat. In addition, it also works out your shoulders and core.

Farmer’s Walk/Suitcase Carry – Walking with weights in one arm or both, this exercise teaches proper posture, balance and endurance while also hitting your arms, shoulders and core. A few rounds of this will really test your grip strength.  Remember to keep your walking position in mind. Doing these in poor position can exacerbate a potential back problem.

By completing multiple rounds of these exercises in a lower-body circuit you will have a back-strengthening workout that will set you up for success with other exercises and overall strength in the future.