Exercises in this tutorial are generally speaking, safe. But with due enthusiasm one can do a lot of damage, provided his/her medical condition requires softer approach. Please, consult your doctor before following the tutorial. Also, on this same site we have exercises for SORE back, ones that should help you to deal with some serious damage. This tutorial is for people that do not have any acute conditions. If you need to take it easier, start with "sore back" tutorials; and I am sure that sooner or later you will get to this one, too.
OK, now when the legal issues are out of the way...
Exercises in this tutorial are designed to be safe. If your health conditions allow doing them and if you do not push yourself over the limit, you should be fine. Safety is one of the main criteria exercises were selected.
Your back needs maintenance. No mater if you are old or young, a computer geek or an athlete - it does. Now, this is the point where I am supposed to write about the modern life style and an overall luck of time, promising you miracles for "just five minutes a day and $4.99". I choose not to.
I know (see my NLP Tutorials) that "success stories" work better, but I am going to try convincing you instead.
Our back is a complex structure, and each part of this structure can hurt, when mistreated. First of all, there are disks, a cartilage made "washers" between vertebrae. And - surprise! - they can get damaged. Strange enough, mechanical damage is not the number one reason. See, those disks that hold vertebrae together, they have no blood vessels in them. So the only way nutrients can reach the inner area of a disk is by diffusion. It is exactly like dissolving sugar in a glass of tea: you can just drop it in and wait. Believe it or not, but at some point sugar will be distributed all over the glass, making the tea sweet. Except by that time the tea will be cold.
To speed up the process we use stirring, which in the case of tea is done by the tea spoon. As for the case of our back, we can use two approaches. First is a massage therapy. And it is great, except it costs money. Not to mention that the back massage will not give a workout to your joints, will not burn fat and will not exercise your heart.
A second approach is doing all that - and more. Exercising. You move, your muscles are contracting and relaxing, producing same effect on your back as a tea spoon would produce on tea.
Plus, when you bend your body, your internal organs are massaged, too. And your joints are busy. And your heart...
What if your disk is BADLY damaged? What if you have a disk rupture? Believe it or not, there are exercises for this situation (see "sore back treatment" tutorials on this site), and they can - literally - produce miracles. Start with them and then get to this "maintenance" tutorial.
Now back to things that can go wrong.
It is possible to damage the vertebrae itself, mostly due to traumas or some VERY infrequent health conditions. It is, after all, bone, and to crack it you need to apply a lot of force.
However, there is another way of getting problems with bones: osteophytes. Remember, I promised not to talk about the modern life style? I lied. The way it usually works, we sit day and night in front of the computer. The disks get less nutrients then they need, and shrink, bringing vertebrae closer together (ever noticed, by the way, that old people are shorter? That's why.) And that (plus the fact that our back almost does not bend) means the body grows bony spikes at the edge of a vertebrae that - in theory - should protect it. Except, it does not, not in case of vertebrae, instead it limits our flexibility, causes pain and in many cases, squeezes the spinal cord.
Exercises can help up to the point of a complete healing.
The spinal cord
As I mentioned the spinal cord above, let's see what can go wrong there. The osteophyte pushing against the spinal cord results in the degradation of the damaged part of the neural pathways in it. Bad news.
Then of course, all times favorite: the pinched nerve. Nerves going from the spinal cord to our internal organs are laid through the channels in bony structure of our vertebrae, in other words, there are holes for our nerves to go through. When disks loose height or osteophytes are formed, the channel gets narrow, too narrow for a nerve, so the nerve gets squeezed. Finally, when that happens, our body "protects" nerves by spasming muscles around that particular disk. There are small muscles around our vertebrae, helping to hold it together. Now, we have muscles attached to vertebrae A and B, and a disk between them. Muscles get spasmed, what happens to a disk? It gets even more pressure, which makes it even more flat. The pressure on the nerve increases, and so does the pain. A positive feedback loop.
And again, exercises can help up to the point of a complete healing.
Finally, muscles. Not the large back muscles, but those little muscles located really deep, by the backbone. The less exercises they have, the weaker they are, the easier it is to get them spasmed and the less support they can provide to your back.
The solution is obvious: they have to be exercised.
Say, you went through the "sore back" tutorials on this site, and now you do not have pain and you can walk and to some extent even bend. Or maybe your back is just stiff, and being an educated person, you can see where it all goes and want to change it. Or maybe you want to keep a healthy lifestyle and suspect (and you are right!) that simply running is not enough. Or maybe you (like myself) went through all these stages and are now teaching martial arts instead of piloting the wheelchair.
This book is for you.
The idea is that you do these exercises regularly. Each of them or those you feel appropriate. Every day or at least almost every day.
For a life. For long healthy life (sorry for sounding like a commercial, cannot forget my NLP background :)
As you do the workout, muscles supporting your back will become stronger. It is a known scientific fact, that human bone alone can sustain 3 times less stress than the same bone supported by muscles. Well... It means you are going to reduce chances of getting an accidental trauma.
Also, as your back will have an increased flow of nutrients, your disks will become healthier. You shouldn't expect too much here, but in a conjunction with the muscles becoming stronger, the difference is going to be dramatic. Well... if you do it on a regular basis, as this is not a magical bullet, it does not work if you keep it on a shelf.
Your heart condition will improve, simply because this exercises are, leaving aside minor distinctions, an aerobics. You move, you do it long enough and at high enough speed - you break into sweat.
And so on. As I have mentioned on the main page of this site, a dedicated person can do a lot more than a "patient". I did it, and changes were dramatic. Now I hope it will help you to improve your life. Good luck.
Each exercise has little "notes". Make sure you are following them precisely. For example, "lift your leg" and "lift your leg, but do not bend your back" are totally different exercises, involving different groups of muscles. In most cases, if you ignore those little notes, you will have no effect from the exercise AT ALL.
To read more, please refer to the eBook below.