5 Back Mobility Exercises That Offer Instant Relief

WWorking from home comes with its perks: You can sleep in, make a home-cooked lunch, and avoid awkward water-cooler conversations with that pesky co-worker. It has its downfalls, too, though. Namely, as working from home has become the norm, people everywhere are sitting in offices more than ever, and often with bad posture. I, for one, know that I worked for a year and a half from my couch, which, while comfortable, was far from great for my back. Even now that I’ve prioritized working from my office, in an actual chair, my lower back, hip, and upper right shoulder are still in knots. According to certified personal trainer Bianca Vesco (AKA Coach B), a lack of back mobility may be to blame.

Mobility is defined as “the ability to move or move freely and easily.” When we’re talking about back mobility in particular, the more movement the joints in the spine are able to do, the smoother your daily movements will be. Why? Your spine is the literal backbone of your body, and as such, it affects literally every bodily movement. “It holds and supports everything you have,” Vesco says “Having a healthy and mobile spine is extremely important because the spine controls important body functions, providing structural support and helping us carry out our daily activities.”

But thanks to our 9-to-5 (or longer) culture, most of us spend an ungodly amount of time hunched over our desks, neglecting our spines. “The more we sit, the tighter we get,” Vesco says. “We tend to carry a lot of tension in our spine which makes it more difficult to move smoothly in our daily lives.”

Fortunately, back mobility exercises can help relieve that tension. “They help us move and reduce the chance of unwanted injuries and pain,” adds Vesco.

Five exercises for optimal back mobility

1. Cat-cow

There’s a reason why this movement is offered in many fitness classes—it builds a toned spine. “Starting in a quadruped position—hands under your shoulders, knees directly under your hips, neutral spine with your gaze toward the floor—as you inhale, slowly curl your tailbone toward the ceiling and continue to arch your spine until your chest is open. , with your gaze on the ceiling, your head is the last thing to look up,” instructs Vesco. “As you exhale, reverse the order, drop your chin to your chest, pushing away from the floor and rounding through the spine, shoulder blades apart. Goes.” Repeat this as often as necessary, but ideally at least 10 times.

2. Rolling planks

Remember: Back mobility is about being able to move freely. As such, slow, steady movements are essential for a healthy back. That’s why Vesco recommends adding rolling planks to your routine. “Start in a downward dog, inhaling as you move a vertebra of your spine into a plank (or more advanced roll all the way to an upward dog),” she says. “Then, slowly shift your hips from plank to downward dog.” Repeat at least 10 times, making sure to move slowly in the process.

3. Kneeling T-spine rotation

Love the thrill of letting your back feel? With this simple exercise you will quickly feel it. “Start in a quadruped position, hands stacked under your shoulders, knees under your hips,” Vesco says. “As you open your chest to the left, reach your left arm toward the ceiling, bring your hand to your left ear with a bent elbow, and curl your left elbow toward your right wrist on the floor.” Do 10 repetitions on each side.

4. Stretch Scorpion

Let it be known: there’s a very good chance you’ll crack your back during this exercise. (I did this while taking a break from writing this and, oh my god—it’s so good.) “Start lying face down on your stomach, legs straight, with the tops of your feet on the floor,” Vesco says. “Bring your right palm to the floor below your right shoulder and extend your left arm to the left side of your body in a T shape. Bend your right knee to bring your foot as close to your right left as possible and begin bending with the right foot to tap the floor on the outside of the left foot.” Once your foot touches the floor, twist backwards, holding the pose and before returning to your stomach. And take three deep breaths before repeating on the other side. Repeat until you feel noticeable relief in your back.

5. Supine twist

Like to layer up the face? Vesco recommends a supine twist. “Start lying on your back with your left leg extended, bend your right knee into your chest, and look right over your midline with your arms in a T-shape,” she says. Hold for a few deep breaths before repeating on the other side. Usually one to five slow repetitions will provide immediate lower back relief.

And remember: go slow and steady

Whatever you do, don’t rush through this movement. “The slower you go through these back mobility exercises, the more beneficial they will be,” Vesco says. “Using or trying to gain momentum will hurt more than help, so my biggest advice is to go slow, show yourself where you are and don’t try to force anything.”

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