NEW YORK, NY – 31 July, 2017 When your back hurts, the last thing you want to do is exercise. You’re probably thinking that exercise will just make matters worse.
But the truth is “if you don’t use it, you lose it”. If you don’t keep your muscles strong (especially your core muscles, which support your spine), they’ll atrophy and your back pain will increase. You need a strong core for a strong back
To support readers who are ready to try exercise to reduce back pain, I’ve put together this guide to strengthening your core and abdominal muscles. You may not relish the thought, but once you start exercising, you’ll see that your chiropractor (that’s me) is always right.
Remember – Rome wasn’t built in a day. Slow and steady wins the race.
Starting slowly is key if you’re not accustomed to getting your daily exercise. To get started, lie on your back, with your arms extended at your sides and your knees bent. With your chin tucked into your chest (to protect your upper vertebrae), slowly raise your head and shoulders from the floor. As you do this, think of pressing your spine into the surface you’re lying on.
Hold for a count of 5 and slowly release. Try to do 5 of these to start, building up to 10, then 20. Over time, you can change the positions of your arms. When you’re feeling strong enough, cross your arms over your chest. This prevents you from using them to perform the movement. That means your core is fully engaged.
In the same position (on your back, with your legs bent, arms at your sides) reach for each heel, alternating left and right. Take your time. As you’re performing the exercise, you’ll feel your obliques (running down the sides of your abdomen) engage.
Repeat this exercise 20 times (10 heel touches each side, alternating sides). When you feel more confident, you can perform the exercise for 20 touches each side, holding each touch for a count of five.
This is a more advanced exercise, so if you’re just starting out, wait until you’ve mastered the two exercises above before attempting it.
Lay on your stomach with your arms extended over your head. For your first attempt, lift the right arm and left leg. As you do so, check to ensure you’re engaging your abdominal muscles to protect your lower back. Alternate between right arm/left leg and left arm/right leg. Do 5 on each side, holding for a count of 5.
When you feel stronger, the full Superman is the same idea, but with both arms and legs engaged. Always keep your abdominal muscles tight for this.
Raise arms and legs off the floor simultaneously, as though you were Superman, flying through the air. Hold for a count of 5, repeating the exercise 5 times. Build up your repetitions and challenge yourself. Before you know it, your lower back will be stronger than it ever has been.