Exercises and Stretches You Can Do At Home

Based on simple statistics, we’ve ALL had (or at least will have) some form of low back pain (LBP) at some point in our lives. The term “chronic” applies to LBP that’s been present for at least three months. It has been consistently reported that LBP becomes increasingly difficult to resolve when it persists for three or more months. This month’s topic is about which exercises have been found to BEST address chronic low back pain (cLBP).

Many studies have investigated the effects of stabilization exercises in patients with chronic low back pain. In a review of six recently published studies that followed patients over a four to sixteen week time frame, investigators noted that participants who engaged in exercise (the use of a Swiss ball, floor or “land-based” exercises, sling exercises with some focusing on the abdominal muscles while others looked the extensors) reported improvements in pain and disability that were not seen among those in the non-exercise control groups. Additionally, one study also looked at changes in bone density between both groups and found increased bone density in the exercise group and a reduction in bone density among participants who refrained from exercise. Another study reported waist isometric strength increases in their exercise group.

One study found the cross section of the multifidus (MF) muscles—the deep low back, fine motor muscle groups that is considered to be one of the most important targets for low back strengthening—significantly increased after eight weeks of exercise. Another study observed the same effect for the deep transverse abdominis muscles.

These and other studies clearly show that core stabilization exercises can improve pain and disability scores in patients with cLBP, while those who do not exercise do not improve and in fact, may actually worsen! So, what are core stabilization exercises?

Here are some Swiss ball options (try 5-10 times and increase reps/hold times as you improve your strength):

  • Sitting pelvic tilts – This can be done with both feet (or eventually one foot when you’re ready for an added challenge) on the floor while rocking the pelvis front to back, left to right, or in a circular or “figure-8” manner.
  • Bridge – Start sitting and then walk out so the ball is between the shoulder blades. Keep your trunk parallel to the floor. Push your heels into the floor to activate the hip extensors (buttock muscles) and then walk back up to a sitting position. You can further challenge your balance and hip extensor strength by raising one leg.
  • Sit-ups – Start sitting and roll halfway back and hold it for different lengths of time.
  • See-Saw – Hug the ball and roll out into a push up position. Position the ball under your pelvis and lift one leg at a time towards the ceiling. Alternate between the left and right legs. You can do BOTH legs together once you get used to this to make it more challenging.

 

There are MANY other Swiss ball exercises, but these are some good ones to start with.

Before performing any of the following exercises for neck pain, make sure to consult a doctor or physician to see if you can perform them.

For many of us struggling with neck pain, whether from a car accident or just sleeping on it wrong, finding the right way to manage the pain can be difficult. Recent research has shown that chiropractic care with rehabilitation exercises is the best combination to manage pain and help alleviate symptoms. The following exercises are a good way to help maintain strength of the neck musculature.

Isometric neck exercises are a great way to help maintain strength. Perform the following exercises 2 times a side and hold for 30 seconds. Do not perform if pain occurs. To perform exercise place hand against head. Use hand to resist as head pushes against hand. Do in each direction as demonstrated below.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) is the leading cause of numbness to the middle three fingers and thumb and affects millions of Americans each year. There are MANY potential causes of CTS, and these causes can be unclear or multi-factorial. let’s look at what YOU can do for CTS.


“Self-help” concepts are VERY important as they empower YOU to gain control of your condition’s signs and symptoms, thus placing less reliance on those of us who manage (in this case) CTS. There is a time for “PRICE” or, Protect, Rest, Ice, Compress, Elevate, such as when most activities make symptoms worse. This is the time for splinting, reducing activities of daily living (which sometimes includes work restrictions), and the use of ice cupping or massage. Patients should initiate movement or exercise-based approaches as soon as such activities can be tolerated. Here are four different exercises you can do:



  1. Fist / “Bear Claw” / Open Wide Hand: This is a three-step exercise, and you can start or stop on any of the three “steps.” A. FIST: Make a fist and squeeze as tightly as tolerated; B. BEAR CLAW: Starting from the fist position (A), open only the palm of the hand (keep your thumb and fingers bent but straighten the big knuckle joints at the base of the fingers); C. OPEN WIDE: Straighten and spread ALL your finger joints by opening up your hand as much as possible and feel for a good stretch in the palm. HOLD each position for one to five seconds (vary the “speed” of moving between the three positions – fast, medium, and slow; emphasize what feels best if you have a preference). Repeat five to ten times or until your hands feel looser.



  1. “Church Steeple”: Place your hands together in front of you (“prayer position”) touching the pads of the thumbs and all four fingertips together and spread your fingers as wide as possible. Next, separate your palms as far as you can while applying pressure against your finger/thumb tips and repeat. Alter the speed and number of repetitions until your hands feel stretched out.



  1. “Shake and Flick”: Simply shake your hands as if you just washed them and you’re shaking the water off to “air dry” them. Again, alter the speed and reps until they feel loosened up.



  1. Forearm Stretches: Place one arm out in front, elbow straight, and fingers pointed straight, palm up (first set). Reach with the opposite hand and pull the fingers, hand, and wrist down and back towards you until you feel a strong “pull” in your forearm muscles. Hold until the forearm muscles feels stretched (5-10 seconds). Repeat this with the palm facing down for the second set to stretch the opposite (extensor) forearm muscles.


Do these on each side two to three times each (even the “good” side) EVERY HOUR (or as often as possible). Think about what you do on a daily basis and if you work in a repetitive manner (on the job or a hobby at home), try to do these exercises DURING THE REPETITIVE ACTIVITY to help keep your symptoms from getting out of control. If you can alter the position or speed of a work or avocational activity, do so for long-term prevention purposes!


If you cannot gain control of your CTS condition, you may need additional treatment options of which chiropractic offers a safe, non-surgical approach.



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