As I mentioned before in my blog about sitting, it is very important to break up your day with exercise and movement. The following exercises are the most effective and efficient exercises you can do without equipment for spine and overall health. They target all the important muscle groups. Try doing a few of every hour or so if you are sitting at work all day. Or, get a full circuit done at once.
Squats: In the beginning, use a chair or bench to get the feel of the movement. Place the chair or bench behind you. Stand with legs shoulder width apart and feet forward or slightly outturned. Squat back at a 45-degree angle so that your butt slightly touches the bench. Keep the back still. Then drive upward using the glutes to extend the hip. If you are doing this right, you should feel the muscles in your butt working more than the muscles in your thighs. A trick that can help activate the glutes is to push outward with the heels (“spreading the floor with the feet”) as you rise. This should make you feel the glutes working. Again, if your knees are dropping in, you are probably not using the glutes. Do this for 10-15 reps.
Planks: Lie on your stomach, up on your elbows. Engage your glutes and abs. Depress your shoulders. Lift your butt and knees off the floor. Keep your back and hips level. Gently tug your elbows toward your feet (no movement should take place). Hold for 10 seconds. Repeat three to five times. If this is too hard, leave your knees on the floor.
Side Planks: Lie on your side, up on one elbow. Engage your abs and glutes. Lift your hips and knees off the floor. Hold for 10 seconds. Repeat three to five times. If it is too hard, leave your knees on the floor.
Push-Ups: Think of a push up as a “moving plank.” Your body should stay stiff like it does with the plank. The movement comes from the shoulders. Engage your abs and glutes. Press yourself up with your elbows angled down towards the ribcage, not out from the ears. If this is too hard, start by staying on your knees or having your hands on a chair or bench. Do this for 10-15 reps.
Hip Extension Lift: Lie on your back with your knees at a 90-degree angle and your heels on a chair. Engage your glutes and abs. Drive your heels down on the chair keeping your toes pointed upward and lift your butt off the floor. Hold for three seconds. Return to starting position. If this is too hard, start with feet flat on the floor. Do this for 10-15 reps.
Try getting two to three circuits done in a day if you can.
All the important muscle groups worked with no equipment. Now, you have no excuse not to exercise! As always, if you experience pain with any of these beyond just muscle exertion, stop and contact your healthcare provider (or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org). Enjoy!