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Ask Dr. Rick – August 2011 – Core Strengthening Exercises to Treat Lower Back Pain

August 10, 2011

One of the main catch phrases in the gym and that trainers use is “core strengthening exercises.” Other terms are lumbar stabilization, dynamic stabilization, core control, muscular fusion and neutral spine control. All of these terms describe the strengthening of the lumbar spine, the lumbopelvic complex and the stabilizers of the spine, pelvis and mid-trunk.

The main component of the exercise program is to counter imparted loads, provide a stable platform to take the stress of the spine and to stop lower back pain. The large muscles of the back — both the superficial and the deep muscle — need to be targeted.

The goals of this program are to decrease rotational stress to the spine, stop extension (leaning back) and to decrease compression of the spine. The bottom line is that leaning forward and twisting or leaning back and twisting is not good for the lumbar or thoracic spine.

I would like to describe three important exercises:

  1. Quad Supermans: The athlete is on all fours and reaches straight out with the right arm and left leg. Hold this position for 10 seconds, then switch and reach with the left arm and right leg. Each cycle is done 10 seconds on the left and 10 seconds on the right. Do three sets of 10. You may have to work up to it.
  2. Front and side planks: Lie down and bear all of your weight on your tiptoes and elbows. Work up to hold these for one minute. A side plank is done by lying on the side and placing all of the weight on your bent elbow and your feet.
  3. Lunges: Step out with one leg, keep the spine straight and shoulders back. The stepped out foot is flat and the knee is bent so that the trailing knee almost touches the ground. Hold for 10 seconds, and again work up to three sets of 10.
  4. These three exercises on a routine basis (three times per week) can maintain strength and endurance of the spine and therefore decrease stress and lumbar pain.

    Please call our office at 314-909-1666 to get the main series of exercises and monographs for core strengthening.

    Ask Dr. Rick


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