In order to strengthen your muscles and support your spine, stabilization exercises are important during physical therapy as these can help prevent lower back pain. With the help of your physical therapist, you can find a way to maintain a neutral spine position.
Some of the goals of a lumbar stabilization exercise routine are:
- Reducing the amount of pain in the back
- Recovering control over the spine during daily activity, its mobility and force
- Healing soft-tissue injury, such as muscle strain and torn ligaments
- Minimizing the chance of back injury due to repetitive motions or sudden movements or stresses
Before undergoing a lumbar stabilization exercise program, you need to be evaluated by your physical therapist and a physician who would work together to develop a therapy plan tailored for your specific needs. However, there are a few exercises that you can do to improve your condition and procure lumbar stabilization.
This is a passive exercise that requires little muscle effort. Whilst laying on the floor with your knees bent and your feet on the floor. Find the neutral spine position and maintain it. Straighten one of your legs slowly, lifting the heel toward the ceiling while supporting the back of the thigh with both hands. Hold it there for 10 to 30 seconds and repeat with the other leg. Do 3 repetitions. If you prefer, you can make the leg muscles static by using a wall to straighten the leg while resting the leg muscles.
Challenge the neutral spine with this dynamic exercise for the hip abductors. Lie on one side with your lower arm bent under head and upper arm resting with your hand on the floor near your chest. Bend both your knees and flex your hips. Find the neutral spine position and slowly raise your upper leg 8 to 10 inches and then lower. Do 5 to 10 repetitions and repeat on the opposite side.
Lay on the floor with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor and tighten your stomach muscles and pull the lower back to the floor. Hold it there for 10 seconds, and do 3 to 5 repetitions. This is an active exercise from a position where the abdominal muscles are isolated and used to move the spine.
This advanced stabilization exercise introduces an unpredictable movement that must respond to the movement of the ball. Lay on floor with both your feet propped up on the exercise ball with your legs straight and your arms relaxed to the sides. Find the neutral spine position and hold while slowly tightening the buttocks muscles to lift the buttocks off the floor 2 to 3 inches.
Stretching and Aerobic Conditioning
Aside from doing strengthening exercises such as the aforementioned, stretching and aerobic conditioning is just as important when it comes to lumbar stabilization. Flexibility is crucial for a successful lumbar stabilization training, since it allows the muscles to assume the neutral position with ease. Further, cardiovascular conditioning is important part for the development of total body muscle strength and endurance, which are key points of any lumbar spine stabilization program. However, keeping a neutral spine during aerobic exercise is for the more advanced patients and it protects the healing back while working out.
Stabilization exercises are rather rigorous and therefore may not be well tolerated by all patients. It may be advisable for elderly patients or patients in significant pain to use other less strenuous means of physical therapy.