Stretching And Strengthening Exercises For The Lower Back
In our practice I see patients with lower back pain and dysfunction on a daily basis. After 15 years of treating these conditions I have learned a thing or two about home care and exercise regimens to help patients with lower back problems decrease their pain, shorten their recovery time and help lower the probability of future injury. In this section of our website I will be providing our patients with a simple road map for incorporating these exercises into their daily routine. The basis of a good back program begins in my opinion with consistently doing three simple and easy to learn stretches/exercises, "knee to chest stretch" "modified crunch" and "pelvic tilt".
1. Single Knee to Chest Stretch:
The patient begins by lying on their back on a firm, yet comfortable surface with their knees bent at a 90 degree angle. The patient then brings one knee up and with both hands pulls the leg towards their chest. Make sure that you are feeling the stretch primarily in your lower back and that it is comfortable. Hold the stretch for 10 seconds and then switch legs and repeat. Do between 3-5 repetitions per leg. Stop immediately if this causes discomfort and let myself or my staff know. This stretch can be done daily, and usually when we have a knew back injury case I recommend that it be done multiple times a day and that it be followed by the application of an ice pack for 15-20 minutes.
2. Modified Crunch:
The second part of our three part program is the "modified crunch". Building strong core musculature is in my opinion the very best way to increase back function and decrease long term chronic back pain. This exercise, is in my opinion, the simplest, safest and best way to build general core strength. Mastering this exercise opens the door to safely incorporating other more challenging and complex core strengthening routines. The patient begins by adopting the same starting position as the knee to chest stretch, lying on their back on a firm yet comfortable surface, with their knees bent at a 90 degree angle. The patient crosses their arms over their chest, tightens their lower abdominal muscles and raises the upper back just a couple of inches off the floor while the lower back should stay flush to the floor. The patient should feel the muscles in the lower abdominal region tighten to perform this movement, if not your doing it wrong.Beginners or people with back pain should take their time, go slowly, and hold the stomach contraction for only a moment of two. start with between 10 to 15 repetitions and immediately stop if you feel discomfort.
3. Pelvic Tilt:
Like the crunch the Pelvic tilt is designed to strengthen your core musculature. Mastering this exercise will result in a stronger, more stable back and reduce the potential for further injury while decreasing recovery times for recent injuries. Like the first two movements in this series the starting point is lying on your back, arms crossed over your chest with your knees bent at a 90 degree angle. This movement is extremely subtle and difficult to initially master so take your time! If you don't feel like it's working or it is uncomfortable to do immediately stop and get with myself or Dr. Karen to work with you on it. To execute this move you need to concentrate on your lower abdominal muscles and use them to gently pull your pelvis towards you, your lower back should stay on the floor and you should feel a mild stretch to your lower back. Repeat this movement very slowly for between 7 to 10 repetitions. As I said earlier this is a challenging exercise to master so if you experience any discomfort or are having a hard time with it get with me and we will work it out.