As contortionists we are day in day out working on strengthening, elongating and conditioning for the spine. I mean who doesn’t want that big bad ass back bend? Hears crickets…. Today I want to focus specifically on lumbar stabilization exercises.

Why? Most students I have come across are open in their lower back and lacking in the upper back. While the novice may look at your backbend and think wow you are so flexible. Those who are training know that it is all about strength and stabilization in your range of motion.

After a recent doctor visit I was in bed with no training for over two and a half months. I’m telling you it killed me!! What had happened was my femoral nerve was trapped and compressed between my L4, L5. I know what you’re thinking here, if she can’t protect her own body she might damage mine too.

Thankfully that is incorrect. I actually suffer from Degenerative Disk Disease. Unfortunately, it runs in the family. It is the very reason I got into yoga and paved my journey into contortion.  While I had always had issues with my back, I had never considered that I had DDD. It was only a recent MRI that brought it to my attention. Lumbar stabilization exercises will help prolong the health of my back and it’s bending abilities.

Today I really want to focus on the Lumber, Sacrum, & Coccyx alignment and injury prevention. Secondly, I want to emphasize correct stabilization because we don’t want to be crunching into the spine to make our c back curve.

We actually want to be pulling the torso away for the hips to create spinal curvature.

For the experienced student that should be a standard given. What you may not know is that while our spine pulls forward away from the hips, it is still relatively easy to hyper extend in the lumbar and coccyx region.

Let’s take a look at the spine and how this all integrates, so that we can understand the alignment when we are performing your lumbar stabilization exercises.

Anatomy Of The Lumbar Spine

The lumbar region of the body is best described as the lower back region. It is the area in between the last rib and the pelvic region of the body. It has in it five vertebrae known as the L1, L2, L3, L4 and L5. These five bones are connected by facet joints that allow forward and backward stretches and twisting movement in the back.

Between the vertebrae, you have spinal discs that cushion the joints and help provide support. This part of the spine has an S-shape, which allows it to absorb force. The curved shape is called the Lordosis.

The lumbar vertebrae part of the body has large muscles that can support the back and allows movement in the upper part of the body. This part of the spine helps to bear the weight of the entire body. The muscles and the bones here are much larger than in any other part of the body, and so it helps to absorb stress from carrying and lifting heavy objects.

Due to the pressure asserted on them, these large muscles tend to get strained, which leads to lower back pain.

Photo Credit.

Key Facts about the Lumbar Spine

  • The Lumbar vertebrae lie around the mid-section of the lower back.
  • It makes up the spinal column region inferior to the thoracic vertebrae in the thorax, and it is superior to the sacrum and coccyx in the pelvic area. 
  • The Lumbar vertebra has five cylindrical bones that altogether form the lower back of the body.
  • The lumbar is responsible for carrying all of the upper body’s weight while allowing flexibility and movement in the region.
  • The lumbar spine helps to protect nerves and the delicate spinal cord within the vertebral column.

Lifestyle Risk Factors That Affect The Lumbar

Generally speaking, lifestyle factors that affect our health can also have adverse effects on the spinal discs.

Sitting too long at a table or sitting in the wrong position can cause pains in the lower back. People who do lots of heavy lifting might also experience pain in this region because they put strains on this part of their back. Similarly, if you engage in a sporting activity regularly, you might experience pain in this area of your body. Pain is a hard and fast cue that you need to start performing lumbar stabilization exercises (yesterday)……

Excessive body weight is also a cause of pain in the lower back since only weak core muscles support the discs.  People who smoke or take nicotine are liable for experiencing pain in this region of their body.

Finally, those with a long history of muscular, skeletal, musculoskeletal or back problems can also experience these issues.

Contraindications of a weak lumbar

  • Osteoporosis
  • Disc degeneration 
  • Inflammation
  • Abnormal micro-motion instability. 

As you can see from the diagram, the L5 is the last vertebrae that we can use to pull the spine away from the top of the hip/iliac crest when entering our c back. Then we begin to move into our sacrum and coccyx. Sacral curvature 5 fused vertebrae coxyx is 4 fused vertebrae.

As you can see the start of the sacrum continues the curvature away from the body lead by the L5 vertebrae. It’s at this point where what we think we are doing and what we are actually doing can go array.

When we move deeper into the coccyx it takes shape of a circle cut in half both ways. The sacrum would be the first piece of the pie moving from the pinnacle to the left.

As the lower spine pulls away you can see how the coccyx would want to follow suit. This is where compression and disk degeneration comes in.

You need to be mindful when you’re in your back bend that entire coccyx does not move towards the sky. We want it to stay in line with the curvature on the glutes. Once you hit the point of Sacral curvature S4 onwards that the spine stays neutral.

Lumbar Stabilization

You must regularly exercise the muscles in your lumbar region to maintain a healthy spine (even though we are aiming for a Rockstar spine).

When your core muscles, pelvic muscles, hip flexors, hamstrings, quadriceps, glute medius and maximus are strong, and pliable you increase your pelvis stability, your body becomes more functional.

When starting a new program you should first consult your doctor or physiotherapist to know which is best for your body. Also, remember to start with some warm-up to get blood circulating your body.

Lumbar Stabilization Exercises Warm Up

  • 40 jumping jacks.
  • 30 grande plies in second position.
  • 20 squats with a theraband around the mid thigh. (To ensure your knees do not sink inward).
  • 20 mountain climbers.
  • 10 crunches.
  • 10 iron cross push ups (arms wide in a t position, this works the muscles that support the scapula).

Abdominal Lumbar Stabilization Exercises

Stabilization Ball Sit Up

How To:

  • Lie flat on your back, with your knees bent, squeeze your bottom muscles and lift your body upwards.
  • Keep your arms by your side and use them to help you balance.
  • Ensure you maintain good posture (do not over-arch your lower back) and contract the deep abdominal muscles by squeezing your tummy towards your spine.

How To:

  • You rest your back in a swiss ball.
  • In that position, perform crunches by lifting your shoulder blades from the ball. You can also return by dropping them below the horizontal.
  • You can also work your obliques using the same method.

Pelvic Tilt/ Pelvic Tuck Standing

This exercise helps you learn how to control your pelvis. It will also assist you in finding a neutral pelvis.  

How To:

  • Stand upright, with good posture.
  • Place your hands on your hips.
  • Imagine your pelvis is a bucket of water, and you are going to tip the pelvis forwards to spill the water out of the front.
  • As you tilt the pelvis forwards, you may find your back arches slightly.
  • To reverse the exercise, tilt your pelvis backwards as if you were spilling water from a bucket.
  • Your back will round slightly as you contract your abdominal muscles. Repeat as required.

Lumbar Flexion with Rotation Control

This exercise works the lower abdominal muscles and core control.

How To:

  • Laying flat on your back.
  • Knees bend and stack on top of the hips.
  • Knees and ankles stay in line.
  • Round through the lumbar spine so that the spine is fully on the mat.
  • Gently abduct (take the knees down & right towards the floor).
  • Do not go too far, just a few inches, and keep the movement controlled.
  • Repeat on the other side.

***A word of warning here, if you do suffer from DDD the spine will be aggravated when it is in flexion plus rotation. If so skip this one and perform single sideline stretches & single forward flexion exercises.

Leg Slide

How To:

  • Lie on your back, with both legs straight, activate your deep abdominal muscles by drawing your tummy towards the floor.
  • Slide one heel towards your bottom.
  • Maintain only the slightest contact with your heel on the ground. Keep the leg slide slow and controlled.
  •  You can progress the exercise by lifting the opposite leg just a few inches off the ground while sliding the other heel towards your bottom.
  • To ensure your body is not cheating place a theraband underneath your lower back and hold each side with your hands. Your back must stay on the mat with the spine keeping the band to the floor.

Glute Stabilization Exercises For the Lumbar Spine

Supine Bridge Basic

This exercise helps to strengthen the abdominal, lower back, gluteal and hamstring muscles.  

How To:

  • Lie flat on your back, with your knees bent, squeeze your bottom muscles and lift your body upwards.
  • Keep your arms by your side and use them to help you balance.
  • Ensure you maintain good posture (do not over-arch your lower back) and contract the deep abdominal muscles by squeezing your tummy towards your spine.

Lumbar Extension Stretch

Lying Extension SB

How To:

  1. Start by sitting on a Swiss ball, and roll the ball under you so that your back is flat on the ball.
  2. The ball contours should follow the curve of your spine.
  3. Let your back extend over the ball as you relax your arms out to your side.
  4. Hold this position to create an extension to your mid and upper back. To make the exercise stronger, move your arms above your head.

Hamstring Exercise for Lumbar Stabilization

How To:

  • On all fours
  • Hip the hips inline
  • Extend the leg
  • To make it harder lasso your ankle and bring the remainder of the band through the midline of the body until it reaches your hands.
  • On all fours extend the leg behind you.
  • Add on: Bend the knee flex the foot and pump the foot to the sky.
  • Posture exercises for lumbar stabilization.

Photo Credit

Bruegger’s Posture Standing Wall

How To:

  • Stand up against a wall and ensure your heels, buttocks, shoulders, and head all touch the wall.
  • Turn your hands out so your palms are facing forwards with your hands resting against the wall.
  • Bring your shoulder blades down and towards the midline.
  • Tuck your chin backwards slightly and breathe deeply throughout the exercise.
  • If your upper back is very rounded and you cannot get your head to the wall, do not arch your neck; just keep your head where it feels comfortable. You will feel a stretch across your chest and front, as well as muscles working in your back, all helping to improve your posture.

Posture and Balance Exercises for Lumbar Stabilization

One Leg Stand Knee Touch Eyes Closed

  1. Stand on one leg with your eyes closed, and bend your knee up to 90 degrees while your opposite hand touches the outside of your knee.
  2. Try to hold this position for 5 seconds and repeat the other side.
  3. It’s a great strengthening exercise especially to the quadricep (thigh) muscle, but also improves balance.

One Leg Stand Leg Backwards Eyes Closed

How To:

  • Stand on one leg, try to keep your balance.
  • Move your non-weight bearing leg backwards.
  • Keep your eyes closed.
  • Be careful and hold on to a wall for support when you first start this exercise.
  • A single leg balance exercise such as this is an enormously valuable exercise, and its benefits including strengthening the muscles and ligaments around the ankles and knees, and improving balance.

Symptoms of lumbar strain

The following are common symptoms that show you have had an injury in the lumbar. These symptoms are generic and may differ from person to person. They include:

  • Sudden pain in the lower back region
  • The lower back feels sore and painful to touch
  • Spasms in the lower back region that cause more severe pains

The symptoms of lumbar strain can look like other medical problems, and so, ensure you see a doctor for confirmation and proper diagnosis.

Treatment

The treatments for lumbar strain would depend on the root cause of the problem. In addition to that, your doctor will provide you with treatments after considering the following factors:

  • Your opinion or preferences as regards treatment.   
  • Your age, medical history and overall health
  • The extent of the injury you wish to treat
  • Expected course for the injury
  • Your level of tolerance to therapy, methods and medications for treatment

After carefully considering the above, your doctor might recommend any of the following treatment methods:

  • Abdominal exercises to improve muscle strength in the abdomen.
  • Cold and heat compression applied to the back
  • Rest
  • Exercises for stretching and strengthening the lower back as it heals.
  • The doctor might also educate you on the importance of using and wearing the proper protective equipment at work or while playing sport.
  • You might also receive medication like anti-inflammatory drugs or special spinal injections to relieve the inflammation and pain.

When it comes to stabilizing the pelvis its not one guide fits all.  You need to be aware of where your body is holding the tension so that you can work those areas more predominantly.

The following guides specifies single areas in depth that help lumbar spine stabilization:

Stay Strong & Limber,

Vanessa.

Hip Flexor TFL & Anterior Pelvis

Quadriceps

Glute Minimus Exercises

Glute Maximus Stretches

Hip adduction exercises

Previous articleBuilding A Strength Training Program To Improve Your Aerial Skills
Next article11 TheraBand Exercises for the Shoulder
Flexibility, Contortion & Yoga Instructor.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here