Lumbar/Core Strength and Stability Exercises
Low back pain can be the result of many different things. Pain can be triggered by some combination of overuse, muscle strain, and/or injuries to the muscles, ligaments, and discs that support the spine. Over time, a muscle injury that has not been managed correctly may lead to an overall imbalance in the spine. This can lead to constant tension on the muscles, ligaments, bones, making the back more prone to injury or re-injury. Since low back pain can be caused by injury to various structures in the spine and its supporting structures, it is important to consult your physician or athletic trainer if you have had back pain lasting longer than 1-2 weeks. Your physician can provide a diagnosis and explain what structure is injured so that your physical therapist or athletic trainer can guide you as to which exercises are appropriate for your specific injury. Each diagnosis is treated with different protocols, therefore it is important that you consult a medical professional before beginning any strenuous rehabilitation program. Low back exercises and flexibility can be the best treatment option for almost all types of back problems as it is likely to help restore balance in the spine. Low back exercises concentrate on strengthening with the abdominal muscles, to be able to give stabilization of the spine. Rehabilitation programs or preventative rehabilitation programs that focus on strengthening lumbar muscles combined with core stability and proprioception will reduce the risk of low back pain if exercises are done correctly, and on a regular basis.
The Lumbar/Core Strength and Stability
The program below can be utilized as a preventative
rehabilitation program or if you are recovering
from an injury. The program includes a flexibility
and strengthening section. Flexibility should be
done at least 5 times a week, and the strengthening
section should be done 3-4 times a week. The
program is divided into levels “Easy”, “Medium”,
and “Difficult”. It is recommended to start with the
“Easy” exercises, and perfect them before moving
onto “Medium” or “Difficult”.
Please take the time to overview the information
below before beginning the Lumbar/Core
Strength and Stability Program. It is important to
understand the way certain muscles work, and how
the exercises should feel in order to know if you are
doing the exercises correctly.
What is my “core”?
The “core” is comprised of several groups of muscles including the
transversus abdominus, multifidus, diaphragm and pelvic floor muscles.
These muscles work together to produce maximum stability in the
abdominal and lumbar (lower) back region, as well as coordinate the
movement of the arms, legs, and spine. Engaging these muscles is not
something that most people do consciously, therefore it is important to
learn how to effectively co-contract these muscles while performing these
How do I engage my core?
Place two fingers on the bones on the front of your hips (ASIS). Move
your hands in an inch towards your belly button
and down an inch towards your toes. You should
now be directly over the transversus abdominus
muscle. When you contract your core correctly,
you should feel a gentle tightening under your
fingers, as if you took in your belt one extra
notch. If the muscles under your fingers start to
“dome”, then you are contracting too much and
compensating with larger muscle groups. It is
important to learn how to engage your core in
various positions and well as during activity to
provide maximum stability for your spine.
A lack of flexibility through the hips (hamstring, hip flexors, gluteus muscles) can contribute to low back pain, therefore it
is important to work on this if you are experiencing back pain. Please make sure all stretches are “pain free”. If you feel
discomfort, you may not be ready to do that specific stretch.
1- Quadriceps Stretch
Using a towel, or band, lie on your stomach, attach the band to affected foot and pull your heel to your butt. Hold this stretch for 1 min. Repeat 3 times.