Okay, we’re at it again for another week discussing helpful exercises to prevent and/or remedy low back pain. Let me be clear first, though: the exercises that I am posting are not being suggested to “HEAL” low back pain. These exercises simply help to establish a core that is so well-equipped that a mild low back injury (like the ones we encounter in our regular daily lives), will have minimal to no effect on your ability to continue on with regular daily tasks. Additionally, if you do experience a back injury, these exercises will likely be included in your rehabilitation program. Therefore, in that way, these exercises are very typical for preventing and relieving low back pain. 🙂
Now that that’s out of the way…let’s look into some additional exercises to help reinforce your core which includes the muscles on the front, sides and back of your trunk as well several muscle above and below your trunk.
Le’t begin with the Superman. This exercise is great for strengthening the posterior muscles. Squeezing gluts tightly, simply lift your arms and legs as high as you can. Try holding for 3 sec, then 5 sec and all the way up to 10 sec if possible.
Next, let’s make this movement more dynamic and try Quadruped Alternating Arms/Legs. Long name, I know…but it helps to explain the name. From all fours or hands and knees (quadruped), assume and maintain a neutral (flat or minimally curved) spine. Slowly reach one arm out in front of you, then add the opposite leg. Hold up to 10 sec, then lower and repeat on opposite arm and leg. This is a great one for challenging the core. The idea is to not allow your trunk to move/rotate much while transitioning between leg/arm lifts. I sometimes add a tennis ball to my patient’s low back to see if they can keep it from falling off of their back while performing this exercise. Sounds fun, right? 🙂
What’s next, you ask? Well that’s a loaded question, as there are at least 5 modifications to this exercise that challenges the core far more than the previous. For example, adding a “Fire Hydrant” component, by rotating the lifted arm and leg outside to create a more difficult balancing situation…or by adding an inverted crunch by bringing the opposite elbow and knee together in between each reach. There are soooo many ideas, but I digress. Instead, I’ll move on to another exercise altogether.
Let’s look at Trunk Rotation exercises (sorry, no picture). These exercises offer a vast amount of variety and can be very effective at engaging the internal corset to not only strengthen the core but cinch the waist! My preference for starting position is in high kneel (standing on your knees only) with only your toes (and knees) in contact with the floor. Holding a weight (5-7#) or a large stability ball, rotate to the right and left alternating as far as you can. Keep your stomach muscles tight and engaged the entire time. Try 10-15 rotations and see it feels. This exercise can be modified to standing, long sitting, from a squat position, half kneeling, etc. It can also be done using a resistance band or a medicine ball for added challenge.
Okay, I’ll stop there. We’ll get into Planks and Pikes next week!