3 Exercises You Can Do To Reduce Your Low Back Pain – Part 2
Earlier we posted PART 1 of this article starting with progressions 1-3 for each of the exercises. If you are just joining us now I would encourage you to go to the previous post first, master each progression, and return to this post ready for progressions 4-6.
I hope you all have found progressions 1-3 to help with your low back pain and increase the strength of your core muscles. Now it is time to take it to the next step to ensure that you continue to make improvements! Don’t forget with each exercise to contract your TA and pelvic floor muscles. If you’re not sure what this means, review PART 1 again for a quick review.
This first exercise focuses on core stabilization and muscular endurance through movement. Before starting each set be sure to contract the TA muscles. Make sure to master each progression before moving on. The GOAL is quality NOT quantity. Anytime you notice that your form is starting to falter it is time to take a break. You will NOT gain anything by continuing with poor form because other muscles are being recruited instead of using the muscles we are trying to strengthen. Work on progressing up to 3 sets of 12-15 repetitions (each side) with a 1 minute rest between sets.
Dead Bug Progression 4:
Start by laying on your back with the feet flat on the floor with your head close to a wall. Close enough that you can reach it with your flat palms and a slight bend in the elbows. Engage TA muscles and bring knees up to 90°. Push your arms into the wall while engaging the TA muscles and pelvic floor muscles and push out through the lower abdomen (stomach) area to increase intra-abdominal pressure to increase core stability. Once you are stabilized slowly lower one leg at a time making sure the low back stays against the ground. Only lower your leg as low as you can while maintaining a neutral position and core engagement. Work on progressing up to 3 sets of 12-15 repetitions (each side) with a 1 minute rest between sets.
Dead Bug Progression 5:
The goal of this exercise is to maintain the intra-abdominal pressure created from Progression 4, above, without the wall to help stimulate the muscles. Start by laying on the floor with your knees bent at 90° and your arms either extended straight above the shoulders or slightly towards the ground (about a 45° angle from the floor). Engage the TA muscles and pelvic floor. Once these are engaged push out through the lower abdominal area to create the intra-abdominal pressure. When you are stabilized maintain your arm position and slowly lower one leg at a time. Start with keeping the leg bent at 90° and touching the heel to the floor. Once you have mastered this you can progress to straightening the leg. Make sure your hips do not tilt and you maintain your low back position against the ground. Only lower your leg as far as you can maintain a neutral spine (low back against the ground). Work on progressing up to 3 sets of 12-15 repetitions (each side) with a 1 minute rest between sets.
Dead Bug Progression 6:
Now that you have mastered the intra-abdominal pressure with core engagement while your legs are moving it is time to progress to the full dead bug exercise! Make sure to engage the core and activate the intra-abdominal pressure. Once stabilized you can now alternate arms and legs. Make sure to move slowly and to keep all core components engaged. Quality is more important than quantity so make sure that each repetition counts! Work on progressing up to 3 sets of 12-15 repetitions (each side) with a 1 minute rest between sets.
The second exercise also focuses on core stability and muscular endurance. The goal is to maintain a neutral spine while contracting the TA muscles and pelvic floor (see PART 1). Be sure to master each progression before moving onto the next one.
Bird Dog Progression 4:
Starting on your hands and knees. Make sure the arms are directly below the shoulders and the knees are directly below the hips. Engage your TA muscles and pelvic floor. We are combining the alternating movements of Progression 3 into one fluid movement now. While maintaining a stable table top slowly remove one leg and the alternate arm. Do not start your lifting very high. Refer to the picture above to see the partial movement of the leg and arm. Remember to visualize a hot cup of coffee on your back that you do not want to spill on yourself! Work on progressing up to 3 sets of 12-15 repetitions (each side) with a 1 minute rest between sets.
Bird Dog Progression 5:
The next progression for the Bird Dog exercise is to reach full extension of the arm and leg. This requires increased core stabilization as the levels (i.e. limbs) are being extended fully. Continue to focus on a stable table top that can support a steam hot cup of coffee! Remember quality over quantity. Progress up to 3 sets of 12-15 repetitions (each side) with a 1 minute rest between sets.
Bird Dog Progression 6:
Now you are ready for the final progression of this series. Don’t think this is the end because there are more progressions after this. Start in a full plank position with your arms directly underneath your shoulders and legs fully extended. Engage your TA muscles and pelvic floor. Start with a wide stance of your feet, about shoulder width apart. As you get good at this exercise you can gradually bring your feet closer together until they are touching. While maintaining a strong table top position slowly lift one arm off the ground and extend it forward. The goal is to keep your body in the same position as if there were 4 strong supports instead of 3. Try not to let your hips move side to side as you alternate arms. Progress up to 3 sets of 12-15 repetitions (each side) with a 1 minute rest between sets.
Clamshell Progression 4:
Now that you have mastered the side plank, you will reintroduce the clamshell movement. Start by lying on your side and pushing up into a side plank position. From here, keep your feet touching while lifting the top knee up off of the bottom knee. Make sure to keep the hips high so that you have a straight line from your shoulders all the way to your feet. Work on completing 3 sets of 12-15 repetitions (each side) with 1 minute rest between each set.
Clamshell Progression 5:
To take this progression to the next level add a resistance band, as you did in Progression 2.
Clamshell Progression 6:
The final progression increases the strength and stability required by extending the level, straightening your legs. To get into position lay on your side with your legs fully extended and your elbow directly below your shoulder. Push through your elbow and bridge up into the side plank position as you did from your knees. Make sure you maintain a straight line from your shoulders to your feet. If you have never completed a full side plank before, practice this a few times first before adding in the leg lift. Progress up to 3 sets of 12-15 repetitions (each side) with 1 minute rest period between sets.
Thank you for joining me through this Part 2 series on core strength!
If you have more questions or are interested in progressing these exercises further feel free to call PrimeCARE Health Clinic in Grande Prairie at 780-539-3618!
Author: Lorelle Warr, B.Sc., M. Sc., P. Kin, Kinesiologist