I have found, and the evidence shows, that the ‘right’ type of exercise is imperative for safe and optimal results. If a person is training to be a marathon runner, they will train differently than someone training to be a power lifter. The same thing is true if you are exercising to help your back issues. Most people have been misinformed on what to do in this regard.
Exercising a misaligned structure (like your spine/back) with strengthening exercises only helps to stabilize your mispositioned structure. This is why body builders love chiropractic care since it helps them balance their body which allows for for improved symmetry as they develop more muscle.
When a patient is in pain and wanting to do exercises to help their neck/back, my first goal, which is in the Chiropractic Oath is to “first, do no harm.” Therefore, any exercise must not irritate your condition. That is why I recommend starting with range of motion exercises before moving into other types of exercise, including strength building.
Stage 1: Range of Motion Exercises
Range of motion exercises have multiple benefits that include pumping out waste product while pumping in nutrition for faster healing, pain relief, better adjustment holding, and improve nerve flow. Starting the day with range of motion exercises goes a long way in long term pain relief – plus, they are easy to do!
Stage 2: Flexibility Exercises
Flexibility exercises are for once you are feeling better. This will help unload the joints by increasing degrees of soft tissue motion before the joint structure are put under any stress. These should be done as you feel able to without irritating your condition.
Stage 3: Strengthening Exercises
This is where most people want to start, but truthfully if you do these as the third stage you will maximize your results. The goal of strengthening exercises is to create stability in weaker areas without causing irritation to those areas. These come once you are feeling confident with your range of motion and flexibility exercises.
There are two types of muscles that move your hips and lower extremities: Tonic Muscles and Phasic Muscles. Tonic (postural) muscles are always working or contracting to keep us upright. Therefore, these muscles tend to be tight and short. When we sleep, they contract or shorten and are taut upon waking and need to be stretched on a regular basis. Examples of tonic muscles include the hamstrings and the iliopsoas or hip flexors muscles. Phasic muscles, on the other hand, only work when needed and tend to be weak. These require strengthening, not stretching. Examples of phasic muscles include the abdominal and buttock muscles.
1) Stand and take a step forward with the left leg into a front straddled position. 2) Rotate the left side of the pelvis forward so that it becomes square with the right side of the pelvis. 3) Perform a posterior pelvic tilt by flattening the curve in the low back while rocking the pelvis forward to create a strong stretch in the left groin/front of the hip. 4) Lean backwards to the right to further increase the left groin/hip stretch. Hold for five to ten seconds and repeat this on the opposite side. Practice these stretches multiple times a day.
1) Lie on your back and place the left leg on a door jam with the right leg flat on the floor extending through the opening of the doorway. 2) Push the left leg into the door jam and hold for three to five seconds and then scoot closer to the door jam to stretch the hamstring. Hold for one to two minutes and repeat this on the opposite side, multiple times a day.
1) Lying on the floor, place your hands behind your low back. Bend one knee/leg while keeping the other straight. 2) Lift your breast bone toward the ceiling one to two inches (2.54 to 5.08 cm) and hold for ten seconds. Repeat multiple times until the abdominal muscles are fatigued.
1) Squeeze your buttocks together multiple times a day when sitting or standing. 2) Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Raise your buttocks so it lines up with your trunk while pushing your heels into the floor. Hold for ten seconds and repeat five to ten times.
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