A tower will only stand tall as long as its foundation is strong. For most of us, as we age, we neglect to maintain a strong core, which is the foundation of our functional posture, and so we find ourselves hurt and hunched over, beaten down by gravity. But fear not, for there are 2 simple exercises you can do each morning that will help to repair your foundation and strengthen your lower back.
As with any suggested activity, make sure you are cleared by your healthcare provider before attempting any of these movements. If you feel any pain or discomfort when you do these exercises, it may be a sign of a dysfunction of the low back, and it is suggested that you see your chiropractor as soon as possible to rule out the possibility of vertebral joint dysfunction, which may lead to arthritis of the lower spine over time, or even worse, facilitate a herniation of the vertebral discs with something as simple as bending over to pick up a sheet of paper. Avoid doing these exercises before going to bed, as it may cause the muscles you just activated to spasm on you because you are not using them.
Exercise 1: One-Legged Bridge
1. Lay on your back on a mat, or carpeted area.
2. Bend your knees to about 90 degrees, this is your rest position.
3. Lift up the left leg into the air and hold it in the air.
4. Keeping your right foot firmly on the ground, lift your pelvis into the air; you should feel the tension in your right hamstring, buttocks, and low back region.
5. Hold this position for 10 seconds.
6. Return to position 2, the resting position.
7. Now lift up the right leg and hold it in the air.
8. Again, raise your pelvis, pushing off your firmly planted left foot.
9. Hold this position for 10 seconds, as you feel the tension on your left side.
10. Return to position 2 and relax, you have just finished this exercise. Perform daily.
Exercise 2: Plank
1. Lay on your hands in a push-up position, or alternately on your forearms.
2. Keep your body straight, with all the weight on your arms and toes.
3. Hold this position for 20 seconds.
4. Relax, you are done. Perform daily.
Perform each exercise once a day, for at least 20 seconds each. After a few weeks, your brain will increase in its awareness of your body’s positioning, providing the proper tone for your activities. In my practice, I will usually recommend these exercises to my patients at some point during their treatment because I have seen it make a definite improvement on how quickly they can return to work, sports activities, and their regular lives.
These exercises are so simple and take less than a minute of your day, so there really is no excuse not to do them! It just takes time to make the habit, and today is a great day to begin.
Dr. Jimmy Greer