About 80 percent of Americans suffer from lower back pain at some point in life. Yet, in countries where full-squatting is a part of the culture (sinking into a squat instead of sitting), incidence of back pain is low, says Simanksy. That’s not a coincidence. “Full squats lengthen the hip and groin muscles and activate the core, all key to avoiding pain in the low back,” he says. To help stretch and strengthen, and increase your range of motion, he suggests a prayer squat.
Try it: Stand with your feet hip-width apart, toes turned out. Lower into a squat until your thighs touch your calves, with your heels flat on the floor. Clasp your hands together in front of you, elbows out; push your elbows into your inner thighs to open your legs wider, as you draw your shoulders back, and tighten your core. Hold this position as long as you can, with the goal to work up to four minutes. If holding this position is too difficult, try it in a doorway and grab the frame for support.
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