3 Moves for Alleviating Lower-Back Pain

You know what's a pain in the you-know-what? Low-back pain. Fortunately, you don't need to see an expensive specialist to cure it...

Save your spine with these three stabilizing ab moves.

By Julia Westbrook , Rodale Wellness

You know what's a pain in the you-know-what? Low-back pain. Fortunately, you don't need to see an expensive specialist to cure it. All you need is the right exercise, according to Greek researchers.

The researchers tested two types of core exercises: isometric and isotonic. Isometric exercises are static contractions of the muscle, such as holding a plank position. Isotonic exercises are dynamic contractions of the muscle—crunches, for instance. The research team found that isometric exercises led to greater pain reduction and vitality than isotonic exercises. The program was short (four weeks) but intense (four hour-long sessions per week), but the results lasted for up to nine months after the program ended.

"Trunk stabilization is a necessary requirement for performing several everyday tasks, such as rising from a chair or carrying an object," report the researchers. "In these movements, the trunk muscles work in an isometric fashion to maintain trunk integrity. In contrast, isotonic exercises involve dynamic contractions, and they can result in increases in range of motion and strength." This suggests that isometric movements are better at prepping your body for the movements you perform every day.

"Ten or 15 years ago, no lower-back-pain prevention program would have felt complete without bunches of crunches," says Jordan D. Metzl, MD, author of The Exercise Cure. "Crunches are also what might be called a 'nonfunctional' exercise. Think about it: When you're standing, walking, and otherwise going about your life, your spine is elongated, a position that the abdominal muscles help support. The only time the abs shorten into a crunchlike position is when you're getting up off the floor or slumping on the couch—not something you need any more practice doing."

Dr. Metzl also points out that repetitive flexing of the spine can be detrimental to spine health and leave you in more back pain. "I much prefer planks to crunches. Planks are no-impact, and you can do them anywhere," he says.

Try these three isometric moves to shore up your spine strength safely.

Side Plank
 Lie on your side and use your forearm to support your body. Raise your hips until your body forms a straight line from shoulder to ankles. Hold for 30 seconds then repeat on the other side.

Bird Dog
Get down on your hands and knees and with your palms on the floor and shoulder-width apart.Brace your core and raise your right arm and left leg until they're in line with your body. Hold for 10 to 15 seconds.

Return to the starting position and repeat with your left arm and right leg. Alternate for 10 reps.

Swiss-Ball Stir the Pot
Kneel in front of a Swiss ball and rest your forearms, holding them parallel on the ball, and make fists. Brace your core and hold.

While keeping your back straight, move the ball in a tight circle with your forearms, as if you're stirring a pot. If your back begins to break form, your rotations are too big. Do 5 to 8 rotations then reverse rotation direction and repeat.

See more at: Rodale Wellness


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Health Magazine: 3 Moves for Alleviating Lower-Back Pain
3 Moves for Alleviating Lower-Back Pain
You know what's a pain in the you-know-what? Low-back pain. Fortunately, you don't need to see an expensive specialist to cure it...
Health Magazine
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