People with low back pain often have dynamic instability. Dynamic instability is when the muscles of the core and the low back do not provide the support that the back needs in order to perform active tasks. This could be anything from vacuuming the floor to climbing a mountain. When your muscles are not activating correctly they do not provide the support that the low back needs. When the low back is unsupported it is more likely to be injured. The good news is that there are some easy exercises that you can do to improve your dynamic instability, which will decrease your chance of developing back pain and may also help to eliminate pain if you already have it. Contact Tauberg Chiropractic & Rehabilitation for more information.

1.) Transverse abdominis and multifidus activation

This exercise is probably the simplest and most important. But it can also be the hardest to perform. People with low back pain often have transverse abdominis and multifidus dysfunction. Learning to activate these muscles can help to prevent that low back pain from developing. To perform this exercise, lay on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Then, take your hands and place them on your lower abdomen just inside of your pelvis. You are then going to bear down like you are having a bowel movement. You should feel the muscles in your abdomen contract. The muscle that is contracting is the transverse abdominis. After you have ensured that you can activate this muscle, put one hand on your low back around your spine. Bear down again and make sure the muscles right next to the spine are contracting. This is your lumbar multifidus. After you have gotten these muscles to contract, perform this exercise for 20-30 seconds at a time, and aim for 3 sets.

2.) Prone Bridge

The prone bridge is the next step to the transverse abdominis and multifidus activation. You will set up in the same position, laying on your back with knees bent, feet flat on the floor, and arms next to your body. Then, lift your butt in the air. This will form a bridge from your shoulders to your feet. You are now going to bear down like you have been practicing. Hold this position for 20-30 seconds. Try and perform 2-3 sets at least once a day.

3.) Quadruped Bird dog exercise

For this exercise you are going to get down on your hands and knees. Once you are in this position you are going to straighten your back. Bear down like you have been practicing. After you are able to hold this contraction, take one leg and lift it into the air. Fully extend the knee and point your toes back. Hold this position for 20-30 seconds. Try to perform it 2-3 times per day. You should perform the exercise with both legs. Once you have mastered that, you can advance this exercise: extend the arm opposite from the leg you are extending. You will now be supported by just one knee and one hand. Make sure you continue to contract the transverse abdominis and the multifidus during this exercise. Hold for 20-30 seconds. Try and perform it 2-3 times a day with both legs.

4.) Side planks

To perform side planks, lay on your side. Bend your legs at the knees to 90 degrees. Take the arm that is on the ground and bend it so that your elbow is now supporting you. Your shoulders should be in the air and your weight will be on your elbow. You should be supporting your trunk with your elbow and knees. Maintain a straight line with your back. Now contract your transverse abdominis and multifidus like you have been practicing. Perform this exercise on both sides. Hold for 20-30 seconds and perform 2-3 times a day. To advance this exercise, you can keep your legs straight and use your feet instead of your knees to bear weight.

These exercises are great and I highly recommend performing them on a regular basis, especially if you are someone who is predisposed to develop low back pain. You should make sure that you are performing the exercises correctly so you don’t hurt yourself. While bearing down make sure you continue breathing. While this may be difficult at first it will get easier as you practice. Don’t overdo the workouts and know your limits. For those who are already suffering from low back pain, these exercises may also help. However, many people with low back pain first need to be appropriately treated to eliminate back pain before these exercises will be effective. If you need help with these exercises or are currently suffering from back pain please call 412-517-8124 for a free consultation.