Caring for your back - Part 2

To continue from our last blog on caring for your back where we expanded the idea that basic care means paying attention to mobility (keep it moving) and strength (keep those muscles from disappearing) we will outline some simple exercises to do at home or work.

These are not hard and if done regularly will keep many back problems at bay. In terms of regularity twice a day would be ideal but even once a day will have a positive effect. Let’s start with three mobility exercises to do at home and then two strength exercises, following that I will give simple variations to do at work.

  1. Lying on your back, knees bent up and feet resting on the ground, bring one knee up to your chest and with both hands grasping the knee pull it gently to your chest feeling the stretch through the lower back and buttock, hold for 10 seconds, relax down and repeat with the other leg. Do five stretches each leg and five both knees up together.
  2. Again lying on your back knees bent up and together, feet resting on the ground. Keeping the shoulders flat on the ground, arms out in an almost ‘crucified’ position rock the knees side to side attempting to touch the knees to the ground each side. Do ten movements to each side , at a slow to moderate tempo. If you can’t touch the knees to the ground then go to the point of tightness and back off, DO NOT FORCE IT at this stage. Persistent gentle movements will gradually gain you more range of movement.
  3. The half push-up or McKenzie extension exercise or the cobra in yoga (it has many names) is a great exercise to finish off the mobility programme. Lying on your stomach, leave the pelvis and legs on the ground and push up using your arms onto straight elbows this ‘arching back’ movement is the reverse of ‘how most of us spend our lives’ (unless you are a ceiling plasterer) we are constantly sitting or bending forward losing the normal curve of our lower back. This exercise restores that. Do ten.

If you have hurt your back this exercises can be a powerful self treatment and by doing ten then 30 second rest and another ten, 30 second rest and another ten every 2 hours it may nip a developing problem in the bud. If the exercise increases pain then stop and come and see us as a different intervention may be needed. More information can be obtained about the McKenzie exercises from his fantastic book ‘Treat Your Own Back’ available from our practice.

Now for two simple strength exercises:

  1. The partial sit-up, lying on your back, knees bent up and together slide your hands up your thighs such that your head and shoulders just come off the ground, hold for 2 seconds, relax back, repeat by 10.
  2. Bridging, working the lower back extension muscles and buttock. Lying on your back knees bent up, push down through your feet and lift your hips into the air so that they line up with knees and shoulders ie shoulders stay flat on the ground.

To be continued…

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