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Easy back exercises you can do on the job or in your dorm room

Thursday, October 17, 2013 by: Sarka-Jonae Miller
Tags: back exercisesworkplace stretchingyoga poses

Whether you're a student on your way to entering the real world or you're already a working stiff, you probably have a hard time fitting exercising into your schedule. If you're like most people, you also sit most of the day with poor posture, which leads to weak back muscles and, eventually, injuries. Around four in five people experience back pain at some time during their lives, and many of those end up missing work, school or social activities while healing up. Save yourself future pain and a loss of productivity by fitting in a few simple back exercises while in your office, dorm room, classroom or empty conference room.

Standing back extensions

If you don't have space to get on the floor to do regular back extensions, or you think dirt on your suit doesn't make a good impression, do this popular back exercise standing up. Instead of lying face down and lifting your torso away from the floor, stand with your back to a wall and use it as resistance. Pushing against a fixed object strengthens your muscles isometrically. Fitness experts say that even 10 seconds doing an isometric contraction is an effective strength training exercise.

Starting position: Stand about an inch away from a wall with your back to it. Place your hands on your hips and relax your shoulders. Lean back slightly until your neck and upper back are touching the wall.

Action: Press backwards against the wall for 10 seconds. Breathe normally throughout the isometric contraction. Push as if you were trying to knock the wall down but don't strain. Relax for a few seconds and then repeat.

Scapular retractions

The back extensions are great for strengthening the extensor muscles of the lower back, but if you're like most people, you slump your shoulders, leading to a weak upper back and tight chest muscles. Scapular retractions are a simple back exercise for the upper back. You can use a wall to give you resistance for an isometric exercise.

Starting Position: Stand about 1/2 inch from a wall and extend your arms straight in front of you.

Action: Pull your shoulders blades backwards until the backs of your shoulders touch the wall. Keep pushing backwards for 10 seconds. Relax and let your shoulders return to their normal position and then repeat.

Modified puppy pose

Puppy pose is a yoga posture similar to the well-known child's pose. It's a great way to stretch out stiff back muscles and relieve tension, but instead of hitting the floor and sticking your butt in the air, use the wall for this pose too. That's a much better alternative to risking a coworker or roommate catching you in an embarrassing position.

Starting position: Stand facing a wall this time. Extend your arms over your head and place your palms flat on the wall. Step your feet hip-width apart for stability.

Action: Bend your knees and slightly arch your back. The goal is to lengthen through the spine and arms. Hold the elongated position for 20 to 30 seconds and then slowly stand up. Repeat periodically throughout the day to combat muscle tension.

A few simple back exercises can do wonders for the strength and flexibility of your back. Even if you already include back exercises into your workout routine, doing some stretching during the day and a few isometric exercises can only benefit your back, unless you have an injury or medical condition that contraindicates these exercises. Always check with your doctor before doing new back exercises.

Sources for this article include:

About the author:
Sarka-Jonae Miller is a personal trainer, massage therapist, novelist, and blogger. Get more health and wellness tips on Sarka's Natural Healing Tips blog
Facebook page, or Twitter.

Sarka's debut novel, "Between Boyfriends," recently appeared on three Amazon best seller lists, including Comic Fiction, Humorous Fiction, and Women's Fiction. It peaked at #3 on the first two lists. The novel is available on Amazon worldwide. This is the second time in two months "Between Boyfriends" appeared in the top 10. 

East County Magazine calls it the "ultimate chick-lit read." The Rancho Santa Fe Review newspaper says, "Over the course of the book, Jan, who is in her early 20s, begins to grow as a person and even strikes up a true friendship with a man, a first for her." Read a free sample on Amazon.

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