What are some key exercises and stretches available to reduce lower-back pain?
Julia Valentour, M.S.
Supine hollowing: Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Perform a Kegel exercise, which is a contraction of the pelvic floor muscles (the same that you'd do to resist the urge to urinate). Exhale and contract your abdominal muscles, pushing your bellybutton to the floor and flattening your low back. Try to combine these two movements and hold for 15 seconds. Do this once.
Glute bridges: Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Arms should be down by your sides for balance. Contract your glutes to push your hips up off of the floor, but not so high as to allow your back to arch. Slowly lower back down. Perform a set of 10.
Crunches: Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Put your hands behind your head with your elbows wide. Exhale and raise your head and shoulders off the floor, pulling your rib cage to your pelvis. Hold briefly, then inhale as you lower back down. Do a set of 10.
Plank: Lie on your stomach with your elbows close to your sides and directly under your shoulders, palms down and hands facing forward. Stiffen your torso and lift your abdomen off of the floor. Hold 15 to 30 seconds and slowly lower back down to the floor. Do this once.
Knees to chest: Lie on your back with your head and neck relaxed. Bring your knees to your chest and hold that position for 10 -- 30 seconds. Do this once.
Lower-trunk rotation: Lie on your back with your head and neck relaxed. Bring both knees to your chest. Without moving your shoulders or upper body, let your legs go toward the floor on one side. Hold for 10-30 seconds. Repeat on the other side. (Be sure to keep the opposite shoulder down on the ground.)
Hamstring stretches: Sitting in a straddle position with your legs extended, bend and bring your chest forward toward the ground. Bend forward toward the middle, and then turn to lean toward each leg. Hold each position for 15-30 seconds.
Charles Stuart Platkin is an Active Expert , nutrition and public health advocate, author of the best seller Breaking the Pattern (Plume, 2005), Breaking the FAT Pattern (Plume, 2006) and Lighten Up (Penguin USA/Razorbill, 2006) and founder of Integrated Wellness Solutions. Sign up for The Diet Detective newsletter free at www.dietdetective.com.