Exercise of the month
Always seek appropriate professional advice prior to any new exercise activity. If you experience any discomfort, please seek medical attention.
Exercise 1 - neutral spine
This exercise is good for estabilshing core stability, and learning a safe and efficient working position for your spine.
This exercise helps to establish a neutral spine, which is the support framework for the trunk.
Lie down with your pelvis tucked under. Extend through the spine and check that you’re aligned by placing your hands in a diamond shape either side of your lower abdomen to determine whether the pubic bone is higher than the ilium. If it is, you’re in the wrong position. To find the correct neutral position place your arms down by your side, breathe in, then breathe out. completely. Think of this as pelvic floor exercise to work those muscles. (Similar to the Kegel approach)
Perform five sets of five, five times daily. Within six weeks you can get 80% of your deep stabiliser muscles firing more efficiently if you perform this exercise correctly.
Exercise 2 - Bridge exercise
This bridge exercise is good for the lower back.
This is considered one of the best exercises for the lumbar spine. Draw your knees over your toes. Push your bottom and pelvis towards the ceiling, also known as a posterior tilt. Imagine your spine as a hammock. Take a breath in and slide your chest down away from your chin. Slowly drop the spine down, vertebrae by vertebrae to the mat. Gently open the sit bone (ischial tuberosity) to create a natural curve in your lower back. And repeat.
Complete this exercise five times daily.
Exercise 3 - Clam Exercise
The clam exercise is good for hip, lower back and knee pain.
Lie on your right side with your right arm extended above your head. Your shoulders and hips should be in alignment with one another and there should be a little space underneath your waist. Maintain a neutral spine. Breathe in, as you breathe out apply a little pressure to the lower leg, lift your upper leg up and to abduct. Take a breathe in and drop your leg down. Remember to keep you hips and shoulders stabilised and in alignment.
Repeat this five times and then switch sides.
Exercise 4 - Four Point kneeling
This four point kneeling exercise is good for the shoulder and lower back.
This is a favoured exercise of leading Canadian back specialist Professor Stuart McGill.
Rest on your hands and knees and imagine a glass of wine on your back which you don’t want to spill. You shoulder blades should be nice and wide, lift up into the breastbone. Lengthen the opposite hand and opposite leg away from each other, and only rise as far as your tabletop flat back. Remember to lift the abdomen. Keep the movement fluid and then perform on the opposite side.
Repeat eight times.
Exercise 5 - Swimming exercise
This ‘swimming' exercise is good for lower back, shoulders and butt.
To complete this integrated exercise, lie on your front, draw the tailbone down, and lift your hips. Imagine having a little chocolate underneath them that you don’t want to squash while pushing the pubic bone into the mat. Maintain a nice width across the shoulders. Imagine someone is pulling you from the top of your head by a piece of string with your chin slightly tucked in. As you breathe, lift the opposite arm and opposite leg. Lengthen and hover a couple of inches off the mat, breathe in and lower. Then switch sides.
Repeat 8 times.
Exercise 6 - Leg pull, prone
This leg pull and prone exercise is good for core stability.
Start a four point kneeling position. Maintain a long neck, wide position across the shoulder blades and lift through the breastbone. Lengthen the lower back and hold in a nice tabletop position. As you breathe out lift the sternum, press on your toes and hover both knees off the mat. Breathe in and lower, then breathe out, lift and hover.
You can also modify this exercise. Lift up, come forward onto your shoulders and lengthen the legs so you adopt a full plank position. Place your hands in front of your shoulders slightly so that you can draw yourself forwards. Adopt a nice long neck. As you breathe out, move out over your hands and hold this position for one in breath. As you breathe out return to a four point kneeling position.
Remember – once you start to dip into that lower back, you have lost control, so you want to keep the abdomen lifted.
Alternate eight times (four each leg).
Exercise 7 - side plank
This side plank exercise is good for your obliques.
Please note, it’s a good idea for beginners to start with your head, middle of your back, and pelvis against a wall (three point contact), purely for alignment principles. Start resting on one elbow and with your heels just in line with your sitting bones. Maintain a neutral spine and stretch down the tailbone. Employ a lengthened position on both sides of the torso and a nice width across the shoulder blades. The elbow must be underneath the shoulder. With the out breath lift the pelvis off the floor and reach the arm up to the ceiling. Keep the neck nice and long. Hold this position for one in breath and as you breathe out, lower the pelvis back down to the mat.
Repeat five times.
Exercise 8 - chest raise
This chest raise exercise is good for your abdominal muscles.
Start lying on your back with your feet resting on the mat with your spine in a neutral position. Rest your head in the palm of your hands. Your elbows should be in your peripheral vision and nice and open through the collarbone. Breathe in, as you breathe out slide the chest bone away, lift your head and chest up and keep the lower part of the pelvis resting. Engage your abdominal muscles. The back of your body should feel nice and heavy. Breathe in then as you breathe out, unroll your spine and unwind each vertebrae back onto the mat. You can progress the move by freeing the head and lifting your arms up and over to reach for the thighs. Breathe in and reach up to the ceiling. Take a breath out, bend your elbows, and slide your hands behind your head. Allow the spine to roll down vertebra by vertebra away from the sacrum.
Repeat 5 times.
Exercise 9 - spine twist
This spine twist exercise is good for rotation.
Sitting upright cross your arms over your chest and imagine a piece of string pulling you up from the top of your head. Take a breath in. As you breathe out, slowly twist to the left imagining your right thigh growing longer as you do. Take a breath in. As you breathe out, unwind the spine slowly returning back to the starting position. Repeat on the other side.
Progress the move by stretching your arms out either side. Keep your collar bone open and shoulders away from the ears,
Repeat each exercise 5 times.
Exercise 10 - MOVEMENT INTEGRATION
This movement is good for spinal mobility.
Start off in a curved position lying over a Swiss ball. Lift the breast bone up towards the ceiling slowly extending your thoracic spine. Hold at the top before rolling the spine forward and back down again over the ball.
Repeat 5 times.
Ensure that you’re engaging your deep core stabilising muscles throughout. Take caution if you have any neck issues.
Exercise 11 - SPINE ARTICULATION
This integrated swiss ball exercise for spinal stability and balance.
Start by sitting on a Swiss Ball and slowly roll down through the spine one vertebrae at a time so only your head and shoulders remain on the ball. Hold this stable position and you could do some chest or tricep exercises. Gradually walk back up again one vertebrae at a time. Maintain this stable position, try not to wobble one side or the other. Then repeat back down. Progress the move by lifting one leg off the ground.
Repeat the exercise 5 times.
Exercise 12 - SWISS BALL PLANK
This swiss ball plank exercise is good for challenging core stability.
Start on your knees with your hands and elbows resting on the ball at a 45 degree angle and your core muscles engaged. Slowly extend up onto your toes. From here, extend through your upper arm and challenge accordingly. A further challenge to the movement would be to rotate through the pelvis to the left and the right then back to the original position, and start the set of movements again.
Repeat five times.