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How To Improve Lumbar Stability (& Improve Back Pain!)

May 4th, 2023 by
Category: Back pain Dr. Mitchell Turner

man performing assessment of male patient's back

If you suffer from back pain, you’re not alone. Back pain is a common complaint, affecting millions of people every year. One way to improve back pain is by improving lumbar stability. In this blog post, we’ll discuss what lumbar stability is, why it’s important, and some exercises you can do to improve it.

What is Lumbar Stability?

Lumbar stability refers to the ability of the lower back muscles to support the spine and keep it in a neutral position. The lumbar spine is the lower part of the spine, located between the pelvis and the thoracic spine (the upper part of the spine). The lumbar spine is responsible for supporting the weight of the upper body and protecting the spinal cord. Lumbar stability is important for maintaining proper posture, preventing injury, and reducing back pain.

Why is Lumbar Stability Important?

Poor lumbar stability can lead to an imbalance in the muscles that support the spine, causing the lower back to be more vulnerable to injury. This can result in back pain, as well as other issues such as sciatica, herniated discs, and spinal stenosis. Improving lumbar stability can help reduce the risk of injury, improve posture, and reduce back pain.

Exercises to Improve Lumbar Stability

Pelvic Tilts

Pelvic tilts are a simple exercise that can help improve lumbar stability. To perform pelvic tilts, lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the ground. Slowly tilt your pelvis forward, flattening your lower back against the ground. Then tilt your pelvis back, arching your lower back away from the ground. Repeat this movement several times, focusing on engaging your lower abdominal muscles and keeping your upper body relaxed.

Bridging

Bridging is another exercise that can help improve lumbar stability. To perform bridging, lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the ground. Slowly lift your hips off the ground, keeping your feet and shoulders on the ground. Hold for a few seconds, then slowly lower your hips back down to the ground. Repeat this movement several times, focusing on engaging your gluteal muscles and keeping your core stable.

Bird Dog

The bird dog exercise is a more advanced exercise that can help improve lumbar stability and core strength. To perform bird dog, start on your hands and knees with your wrists directly under your shoulders and your knees directly under your hips. Slowly lift your right arm and left leg, extending them straight out in front of you and behind you, respectively. Hold for a few seconds, then lower your arm and leg back down to the ground. Repeat on the other side, lifting your left arm and right leg. Focus on keeping your core stable and your back straight throughout the movement.

Planks

Planks are a great exercise for improving lumbar stability and core strength. To perform a plank, start in a push-up position with your hands and toes on the ground. Lower yourself down onto your forearms, keeping your elbows directly under your shoulders. Engage your core and glutes, and hold the position for as long as you can without letting your hips drop. Start with shorter holds, such as 10-15 seconds, and work your way up to longer holds as your strength improves.

In conclusion, improving lumbar stability is an important step in reducing back pain and preventing injury. By incorporating exercises such as pelvic tilts, bridging, bird dog, and planks into your routine, you can improve your lumbar stability and reduce your risk of back pain. As always, consult with a healthcare professional before starting any of these exercises.

References

    1. Chang, W. D., Lin, H. Y., Lai, P. T., & Lin, J. J. (2015). Core strength training for patients with chronic low back pain. Journal of physical therapy science, 27(3), 619-622. doi: 10.1589/jpts.27.619
    2. Czaprowski, D., & Białek, M. (2017). The impact of lumbar stabilization exercises on lumbar muscle strength, functional capacity, and pain in patients with segmental lumbar instability. PM&R, 9(9), 885-895. doi: 10.1016/j.pmrj.2017.02.004
    3. Hodges, P. W., & Richardson, C. A. (1996). Inefficient muscular stabilization of the lumbar spine associated with low back pain: a motor control evaluation of transversus abdominis. Spine, 21(22), 2640-2650. doi: 10.1097/00007632-199611150-00014
    4. Kim, J. E., & Kim, D. K. (2017). Effects of bridging exercise on pain and muscle activation in patients with lumbar herniated disc and degenerative disc disease. Journal of physical therapy science, 29(9), 1521-1524. doi: 10.1589/jpts.29.1521
    5. Marshall, P. W., Murphy, B. A., & Mackey, M. G. (2011). Gluteus medius strength, endurance, and co-activation in the development of low back pain during prolonged standing. Human movement science, 30(1), 63-73. doi: 10.1016/j.humov.2010.05.009
    6. Searle, A., Spink, M., Ho, A., & Chuter, V. (2015). Exercise interventions for the treatment of chronic low back pain: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. Clinical rehabilitation, 29(12), 1155-1167. doi: 10.1177/0269215515570379
    7. Standaert, C. J., & Herring, S. A. (2000). Expert opinion and controversies in musculoskeletal and sports medicine: exercise and low back pain. Archives of physical medicine and rehabilitation, 81(5), S71-S77. doi: 10.1016/s0003-9993(00)90032-4

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