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Karla is a certified yoga teacher, nutritionist, content creator and an overall wellness coach with over 10 years of international experience in teaching, writing, coaching, and helping others transform their lives. From Croatia to Spain and now, the US, she calls Seattle her new home where she lives and works with her husband. Read more…
If you’re one of the people who love hitting the gym early in the morning, you might notice how stiff your back muscles feel at the very beginning of your workout. As the weather gets colder, this might turn into a potential problem.
When your muscles aren’t properly warmed up before an intense gym session, you might be risking injury, strain, and pulling muscle fibers. This can cause pain and limit your movements, especially when it comes to future workouts. Here are some of the best exercises to help you prep your spine before the gym.
Cat and Cow
Upward Facing Dog
Start in a tabletop position with your wrists right under your shoulders and your knees right under your hips. Push the ground away from you by pressing your palms firmly into the floor and tuck your pelvis to straighten your spine.
Engage your core muscles and feel your lower back elongate. Inhale and gaze up, letting your belly drop. Create a large curve in your spine and stretch out your entire front body. Exhale and curve your spine the other way, bringing your chin to your chest and feeling the space in between your vertebras expand.
Repeat five times and take it slow. Once you’re done, come back to the starting position and reset your spine.
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Start by laying on your belly, legs and feet together. Place the tops of your feet on the floor and push them down so you feel the back of your legs engaged. Place your palms next to your chest and on your inhale, push your upper body off the ground, but keep your pelvis on the floor.
Exhale and gently come back down, placing your forehead on the floor so you reset your upper back. Repeat two more times, trying to lift up higher each time. The goal is to really use your back muscles to lift up instead of just pushing yourself away with your arms.
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Once again, you’re starting in a laying position with your belly on the floor. You can keep your legs together or separated for this variation, but the important thing is to engage them fully. Place your arms alongside your body, palms facing each other. Inhale and lift both your legs and your arms in the air, going as high as you can, activating every muscle. Exhale and release.
You can repeat the same thing two more times or interlace the fingers behind your back and use the clasp as leverage to lift your upper body off the ground while lifting your legs at the same time. Exhale and release. Take it slowly and don’t do any sudden movements to prevent injury or strain.
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You can start in a laying position on the floor, belly facing down, or in a plank. Place both of your palms next to your chest and on your inhale, extend your arms and lift your entire body up, threading your upper body through your arms, stretching your chest, and gazing up.
Push the tops of your feet into the floor and bring your hips as far forward as possible. Look up and maybe even a tad bit back to go deeper into your backbend. You can stay here or look slightly left and then right to stretch your neck as well. After three long inhales and exhales, relax back down. Stay here or push your hips up and make an inverted V shape with your body to reset your spine.
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After a few deep stretches, your back is already warmed up so it can go deeper into backbends. Start in a laying position, belly facing down. Bend your knees and grab your feet from the inside. Extend your arms and on your inhale, use the power from your legs to lift you up and back. Exhale and release.
Repeat this two more times. Make sure to take your movements as slow as possible to prevent injury or any pain in your back. Don’t push yourself to the edge and listen to your body. With each lift, you’ll undoubtedly be able to go deeper.
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Start by coming into a wide-stance squat with your back fully straightened and extended. Open your hips as wide as it’s comfortable for you and bring your palms together. Press your palms against each other so that you can use your elbows to open your hips even more. Straighten your spine and feel your lower back elongate, using gravity to create space between the vertebrae.
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Warm-ups are just as important as exercise, so make sure to do these exercises before any gym workout in order to prevent any injuries or strain. Additionally, if you’re specifically gearing up for leg day, add these exercises to your routine!
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