10 relatively simple exercises to keep your spine limber and strong.
1. Knee rolling
Lying on your back and rolling your knees from side to side for 30-60 seconds helps oil up the hinges of the spine and keep you mobile. It should feel like a nice rhythmical smooth movement and should help to prevent the most common type of low back pain known as mechanical back pain.
2. Piriformis stretch
Lying on your back with knees bent. Cross the ankle of the leg to be stretched over the other knee. Put your arms around the thigh as shown. Bring your thigh towards your stomach. Feel the stretch in your buttock.
Hold the stretch for about 30 seconds and repeat about 2-3 times on each leg.
3. Thoracic Rotation
In sitting, put a broom handle, Golf Club or Hockey stick behind your neck across your shoulders and rotate your torso slowly to the right, hold for 2-3 seconds and then rotate left and hold. Repeat 10 time to each side.
You can also put the broom handle under your shoulder blades and repeat the same action to feel the stretch in a slightly different area.
Lift opposite arm and leg to horizontal position. Hold 5 - 10 secs. Try to keep your body still. Repeat 12 times each side.
To make things a little more challenging, rather than holding the position with arms and legs out try and get your hand and knee to touch each other under your belly button without moving your spine and repeat.
Lying on your back with knees bent.
Lift your hips up and keep it straight while shifting the weight over to one leg. Then straighten the other leg - put it back down and repeat with other leg. Try this 12 times on each leg. Keep your hips, knees and pelvis square throughout.
6. The Plank
Lie face down. Support your body weight on your forearms and toes.
Tighten your stomach muscles and keep your neck and back straight. Aim to hold this position for 1 minute while breathing comfortably.
7. Side Plank
Lie on your side with your legs straight. Lift yourself up to support your body weight on your forearm and feet.
Tighten your stomach muscles and keep your neck and back straight.
Hold for 30 seconds and repeat twice on each side.
To make things more challenging try and raise your top leg up and down throughout the 30 seconds.
8. Single or double leg lift
Lean your upper trunk over a table (put a cushion on the edge to soften it), knees bent, back rounded and arms holding on to the table.
Lift one leg up with the knee bent and arch the small of your back. Return to starting position. Repeat with other leg. You can also do the exercise lifting both legs together.
Hold for 4 seconds and let legs down slowly. Repeat 8 times.
9. Chin Tuck
Sitting straight-backed. Pull your chin in. At the end position take hold of your chin with your hands. Push your chin carefully further backwards. Hold for a moment and feel the stretch in your neck.
Repeat 6 times.
Balance is so important for efficiency of movement and in preventing injury. Try standing on one leg for a minute. If it's too easy, do it with your eyes closed and stand on an uneven surface such as a pillow or wobble board to make it even more difficult.
As always this is advice only and not a prescriptive exercise program. Consult us at spinalphysio to see if the above is correct for you.
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