We so often hear that exercise is a necessary component of living a healthy life. It can also be used as a treatment for pain and to create a foundation for pain-free mobility throughout the course of someone’s lifetime. The mentality that only rest will help with pain relief or injury is outdated. That’s where physical therapy comes in! Rest has its place in a variety of conditions but modified participation in physical therapy and exercise is most successful in helping you recover from pain or injury. The body adapts to the loads placed on it. So no load = no adaptation = no change in the current state that your body is in.
Exercise when correctly prescribed and implemented as part of our daily life can be one of the best methods for treating a number of different pain syndromes. One of the most predominant pain syndromes is low back pain. Low back pain is very common worldwide, with 60-80% of people affected at some time in their lives. There are many specific exercise protocols concerned with treating low back pain however I have a specific passion for integrating pelvic floor musculature activation and strengthening within those exercise protocols. Strengthening your pelvic floor as support for the muscles of your hips and low back can maximize your results and help build a foundation for
There are plenty of different exercises you can do to strengthen your core and pelvic floor and it can be overwhelming to know where to start. The following
is a list of four basic exercises you can try at home:
1. Diaphragmatic Breathing: inhale through your nose to expand your stomach slowly (count of three) and then exhale through your mouth while pushing your back down into the floor. Keep one hand on your chest and one on your stomach, your chest should remain still and your stomach should rise and lower. Repeat 10 times.
- Kegels: Lie on the floor with your knees bent and feet flat. Exhale and pull your belly button into your spine while contracting your pelvic floor muscle (squeeze the muscles like you are trying to stop the flow of urine) and then hold for a count of three. Gently relax and inhale.
Repeat 10 times.
- Heel Slides: Lie on the floor with knees bent, inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth and contract your pelvic floor (squeeze the muscles like trying to stop the flow of urine) and slide your right heel away from you just as far as you can maintain your pelvic contraction, then gently inhale as you bring your heel back toward your bottom. Repeat 10 times on each side.
- Marches: Lie on the floor with your knees bent, inhale through your nose, and exhale through your mouth, draw your pelvic floor in and slowly lift one leg up off the ground and then lower to the ground, repeat 10 times on each side. It will take some practice to start feeling like you have control during these exercises but they can be a gentle start to improving your low back pain and mobility. These exercises are not a substitute for one-on-one training or seeing your therapist for rehabilitation of specific injuries. Add the exercises to your daily workout regimen or use them as a foundation towards moving more and committing to living a more active lifestyle. The exercises outlined above are designed as a starting place for stability with movement. The bottom line is…if you want to feel better you have to move, and you must have a good foundation from which to move in order to move well.