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Natural Awakenings Space & Treasure Coast Florida

Exercises for Lower Back Pain

Apr 01, 2011 01:45AM ● By Dr. Daniel Weber

The most effective exercises for lower back pain and injuries are all classified as 'Dynamic Stabilization Exercises' (DSE). The theory behind these types of rehabilitative exercise is to achieve strengthening of the core muscle stabilizers of the spine, while keeping the patient in a neutral spine position. In other words, we are going to get the back strong again without putting undue stress and strain on the injured disc, facets and ligaments.

After any serious injury to the back, the core muscle stabilizers of the spine become rapidly weakened and even atrophied. By three months the weakness and atrophy will be even more debilitating. Surgery has also been known to destroy the strength of the core stabilizers. It has been reported that the trunk muscles suffer a 30% decrease in strength after discectomy surgery.

As we know, the lumbar disc is responsible for 'carrying' the weight of the body or carrying the 'axial load' of the body. If the disc is damaged and inflamed, it doesn’t want to carry anything because the downward pressure hurts in the same way it hurts to walk on a sprained ankle.

The only way to take some of this irritating pressure (axial load) off the disc and facets is by making the Core Stabilizers stronger. The Core Stabilizers also help carry the 'axial load' of the body and will assist the disc in its weight bearing duties and will also protect the disc from other directional forces. So, strengthening the Core Stabilizers will reduce mechanical irritation upon the disc and facets, lessen your pain, and allow you more "up-time" (time spent standing, walking, sitting).

Begin with these DSE Exercises:

1) Always start your work-out with this stretch. Simply lie on your back and GENTLY pull your knee to your chest and hold for a count of 20 to 30 seconds. Slowly lower the leg and repeat the other side. Do each leg 3 times. Do NOT force it or cause yourself any significant lower back pain.

2) Since disc patients lose their ability to 'Reflex-Contract' their core spinal-stabilizers, learning how to 'manually' accomplish this is a must! Here's how: Lie on your back and simply suck/contract your belly-button downward (Concentrate on accomplishing this exercise by pulling belly button into the floor using your muscles, NOT by deeply inhaling) and simultaneously tighten your buttock muscles and HOLD. If you're really in pain (acute) do not tighten the buttock muscles. 1 to 3 sets of 5 to 15 seconds is plenty.

3) While keeping your low back in the neutral position, simply sit on an exercise ball for 5 to 20 minutes while watching TV. You may bounce gently, and slightly roll from side to side. Just 'play', but make sure you keep that neutral spine.

It is important to remember that rehabilitative exercises are only one part of recovery from a lower back injury and that supervision by your chiropractor or other health professional is imperative to properly treat injuries to the spine.

Dr. Daniel Weber owns The Joint, a chiropractic place located at 3016 Lake Washington Rd in Melbourne. Each visit is only $20 and no appointment is necessary. For more information call 321-254-2828 or visit