Core Stability Exercises for the Lower Back – Part 2 of 3
Following on from last week’s article on core stability, the following exercises are a good guide to get you started for better core strength.
Floor / static exercises
The aim of these exercises is to develop a basic level of lumbar and pelvic stability working front, rear and side muscles of the trunk.
- The plank
Overview A common exercise that requires good abdominal strength and co-contraction of the abdominal wall musculature to hold the lumbar spine and pelvis in correct alignment
Abdominal wall (TvA/internal obliques)
Technique Hold a straight body position, supported on elbows and toes. Brace the abs, and set the low back in the neutral position, once you are up. Sometimes this requires a pelvic tilt to find the right position. The aim is to hold this position, keeping the upper spine extended, for an increasing length of time up to a maximum of 60 secs. Perform two to three sets. Keep shoulders back and chest out, while maintaining the neutral lumbar position. This makes the exercise considerably more challenging
Progression Lift one leg just off the floor; hold the position without tilting at the pelvis
- The side plank
Overview – A safe and effective exercise for the obliques and quadratuslumborum (a key lumbar stabilising muscle). Recent research also shows this to be an excellent exercise for the lower abdominal muscles
Obliques (internal and external)
Technique Lie on one side, ensuring the top hip is ‘stacked’ above the bottom hip. Push up until there is a straight bodyline through feet, hips and head. Hold the position, increasing the length of hold up to a maximum of 60 secs. Perform two to three sets. Keep the elbow under the shoulder to avoid upper body strain. Lower under control and repeat on opposite side
Progression Raise the top leg in the air and hold it in the abducted position
- The gluteal bridge
Overview – Research suggests this is more a low back than gluteal exercise. However, it is a good way to teach athletes to recruit the gluteals in the ‘inner range’ position
Technique Lie on the floor with your knees bent. Squeeze your gluteals and then push your hips up until there is a straight line through knee and hip to upper body. Shoulders remain on the floor. Beware of raising too high or of flaring the ribs, which pushes the back into hyperextension. Hold the position. Start with five sets of 10 secs progressing to two to three sets of 60 secs
Progression Extend one leg carefully ahead of you and hold the position without dropping or tilting the pelvis
- ‘Birddog’ or ‘Superman’
Overview – Also recommended as a safe and effective exercise for the lumbar and thoracic portions of the erector spinae muscle. This exercise also requires co-contraction of the abdominal wall muscles to stabilise the pelvis.
Thoracic and lumbar portions of erector spinae
Technique Start with hands below shoulders and knees below hips. Set your low back into neutral and brace your abs slightly. Slowly slide back one leg and slide forward the opposite arm. Ensure that the back does not slip into extension, and that the shoulders and pelvis do not tilt sideways. Hold, increasing the duration up to a maximum of 20 secs. Slowly bring your leg and arm back and swap sides. Perform sets of 5-10, alternating sides after each hold.
To learn more about core stability training, please contact Hinterland Physio on ph. 4972 5155, or visit the website: www.activephysiohealth.com.au . Shayne has been providing physiotherapy services to Gladstone for the past 5 years.