Sitting up for back strength

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This is a Body MOT exer­cise. Click to find out why

What it’s good for If you’ve never done any back-​strengthening exer­cises, start here. Stronger back muscles will:

  • reduce neck and back­ache
  • help you feel and look taller and straighter
  • reverse hunch­ing over and roun­ded shoulders
  • help your bal­ance
How often to do it Every day, morn­ing, noon and night!
Equipment you’ll need A kit­chen chair without arms

Sitting upright in a kitchen chair, hands lightly supporting at the sides of the chairSitting incorrectly with back hunched overSitting incorrectly, leaning backwards

  • Sit tall at the front of the chair, feet hip-​width apart
  • Place hands on the sides of the chair, ready to push down
  • Gently draw in lower abs
  • Lengthen up – ima­gine someone upstairs is pulling you up by a piece of string in the top of your head
  • Push down with your arms at the same time to get even taller
  • Look straight ahead through­out
  • When you’ve reached your tallest, let go of your arms and stay tall for a count of 10 – and keep breath­ing!
  • Rest briefly then repeat

Aim to do this 10 times in one go.

♦ Don’t let your bot­tom come off the seat at all
♦ Ask someone to check that you are not lean­ing back­wards (see photo above), or hunch­ing over (see photo above right). It’s really import­ant to be straight on top of your “sit-​bones” (bum-​bones), even if you can only stay there a few seconds before rest­ing
♦ Once you get the feel for sit­ting really tall, you don’t need to use your arms to push – just rest your hands in your lap and lengthen up through your back.

Varying the exer­cise for more chal­lenge

Once you can do 10 repeats, you need to make the exer­cise harder to con­tinue strength­en­ing your back. Try the pro­gres­sions below in order of increas­ing dif­fi­culty.

The pro­gres­sions

1. Sit and hold for longer
Increase your 10sec hold gradu­ally, eg, by 5 seconds each week, until you can hold for 30 seconds at a time; and do 10 repeats at one go

2. Move on to the seated upper back strengthener

3. Begin work­ing through the back strengthener series

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