S.U.S.= Secret Code for Posture
When I was growing up, my mother and I shared a secret code for posture. S.U.S. meant "Stand Up Straight" and I seemed to need constant reminders. I still think a lot about posture. Last week, I mentioned that the back extension is an easy exercise to help you straighten up. I described a version of it that you can do seated or standing, which is very handy when you're working at a desk or bending over baby strollers all day long.
However, the prone back extension or "Press Up" is even more effective for strengthening the spine since you perform it while lying face down on the floor. The reason for this is that when your back is parallel to the floor, the force of gravity exerts more direct resistance on the spinal muscles. They have to work harder to extend or lift the spine and that makes them stronger.
Elongating the spine before you lift up is the trick to executing this movement successfully. Lengthening the torso will reduce the risk of compression in the low back. You should be pain- free before you try the exercise, and you should proceed cautiously to avoid creating any strain. The only sensation you should feel is the muscles of the low back tightening as they work.
1) To begin, lie face down on the floor with a folded towel under your forehead to ensure proper alignment of the head and neck with the spine. Bend your arms and rest your forearms on the floor, palms down. Contract your abdominals to support the low back.
2) Lengthen the spine by reaching forward with the top of the head. Draw your shoulder blades down and together. Exhale as you lift your head and shoulders off the floor, without using any strength from your arms. Keep your nose down. Pause at the top, then inhale and slowly return to the start position without resting. Repeat 10 times. Try to build up to two sets of 10.