Flexibility and Strengthening Exercises
These exercises are useful to get you in shape for more vigorous aerobic exercise or as part of your warm-up and cool-down routines.
Back And Abdominal Exercises
1. Knee-to-Chest Stretch
Lie on the floor with knees bent and feet flat.
Bring one knee toward your chest, using your hands to help.
Hold your knee near your chest for ten seconds and lower the leg slowly.
Repeat with the other knee.
Relax and enjoy the stretch.
Note: You can also tuck both legs at the same time if you wish.
2. Pelvic Tilt
An excellent exercise for low back pain.
Lie on your back with knees bent, feet flat.
Place your hands on your abdomen.
Flatten the small of your back against the floor by tightening your stomach muscles and your buttocks.
Hold the tilt for five to ten seconds. Relax.
Arch your back slightly.
Relax and repeat the Pelvic Tilt.
Keep breathing. Count the seconds out loud.
Once you've mastered the Pelvic Tilt lying down, practice it sitting, standing, and walking.
3. Back Lift (1)
This exercise improves flexibility along your spine.
Lie on your stomach and rise up onto your forearms.
Straighten your elbows. Breathe naturally and relax.
Note: If you have moderate to severe low back pain, do not do this exercise unless it has been specifically prescribed for you.
4. Back Lift (2)
This exercise is good for strengthening your back muscles.
Lie on your stomach with your arms at your side or overhead.
Lift your head, shoulders, and arms. Do not look up.
Keep looking down with your chin tucked in.
Count out loud as you hold for a count of ten.
Relax. You can also lift your legs off the floor instead of your head and shoulders.
5. Low Back Rock and Roll
Lie on your back and pull your knees up to your chest with your hands behind the thighs.
Rest in this position for ten seconds, then gently roll knees from one side to the other, rocking your hips back and forth.
Keep your upper back and shoulders flat on the ground.
6. Curl Up
This exercise is great for strengthening your abdominal muscles.
Lie on your back, knees bent, feet flat.
Do the Pelvic Tilt (exercise 2 above).
Slowly curl up to raise your head and shoulders.
Uncurl back down, or hold for ten seconds and slowly lower.
Breathe out as you curl up, and breathe in as you go back down. Do not hold your breath.
Caution: If you have neck problems, or if your neck hurts when you do this exercise, do not do this exercise. Do the exercise 7 below instead. Never tuck your feet under a chair or have someone hold your feet!
7. Roll Out
This exercise is a good abdominal strengthener. It is also easy on the neck. This exercise is recommended instead of the Curl Up (exercise 6) above if you have neck pain. If neck pain is not a problem, you can do both these exercises.
Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat.
Bring one knee up to your chest.
Do the Pelvic Tilt (Exercise 2) and hold your lower back firmly against the floor.
Slowly and carefully, move one leg away from your chest as you straighten your knee.
Move your leg out until you feel your lower back start to arch. When this happens tuck your knee back to your chest.
Reset your pelvic tilt and roll your leg out again.
Breathe out as your leg rolls out. Do not hold your breath.
Repeat with the other leg.
Note: You are strengthening your abdominal muscles by holding your pelvic tilt against the weight of your leg. As you get stronger, you'll be able to straighten your legs out farther and move both legs together.
Next Topic: Hip And Leg Exercises
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