Low back exercise
by Nathan Wei, MD, FACP, FACR
Nathan Wei is a nationally known board-certified rheumatologist and author of the Second Opinion Arthritis Treatment Kit. It's available exclusively at this website... not available in stores.
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A primary contributor to low back pain is poor posture. Exercises for improving posture can help mitigate low back pain.
Better posture starts with proper alignment. The chin, breastbone and belly button should line up in front. From the side the ears are in line with the shoulders, which are in line with the hips. This alignment should be practiced in both standing as well as sitting positions. Make an effort to sit on the buttocks, not on the tailbone.
The three basic muscle groups important for low back support are the abdominals (stomach muscles), the gluteals (buttocks) and the paraspinals (the muscles that run up and down on each side of the spine).
Do not do the following exercises until you check with your physical therapist or physician!
1. To strengthen the buttocks: Lie on the back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Tighten butt muscles and lift the butt off the floor slowly. Hold for a few seconds, return. Do 10 repetitions.
2. To stretch the hamstrings: Lie on the back, feet straight out. Pull the right knee into the chest and hold it there for a few seconds. Then gently extend the leg toward the ceiling until a stretch in the hamstrings is felt. Hold, return to start and repeat with the other leg.
3. To stretch the paraspinals: Hands and knees position. Arch the back like a cat. Keep the neck in a neutral relaxed position. Hold for 10 seconds, then release.
Other exercises that are kind to the back and which have aerobic benefit are a recumbent bike and water exercises. Vertical water exercise allows one to work muscle groups without putting excessive stress or strain on the back.
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