Best Floor Exercises For Chronic Low Back Pain
In an earlier post, we reviewed a few popular Swiss or gym ball exercises. This month, we will introduce some core stabilizing exercises that can be done on the floor.
There are benefits to Swiss ball exercises like balance or proprioception stimulation. In fact, five minutes of ball exercises equals 35 minutes of floor exercising when focusing on balance or proprioception. It is a well-known fact that as we age, we lose our “kinesthetic sense”, or balance skills, so incorporating balance into any exercise program is a good idea.
However, the disadvantage of Swiss ball exercises is convenience, since it’s less portable. We cannot easily travel with a gym ball, but we all have access to the floor regardless of our location. Also, with exercises performed on the floor, you can achieve stronger muscle contractions due to greater stability. Ideally, MIX the two together. Also, include a 20-30 minute brisk walk for aerobic benefits.
Here are some great floor core stabilization exercises. Try holding for 5-10 seconds, repeating 5-10 times, whatever you can tolerate. If you feel sharp pain anywhere during any of these exercises, STOP.
- Pelvic tilts – First, with the knees bent about 90° with your feet on the floor, flatten your low back against the floor by rocking your pelvis back.
- Dead Bug – On your back with hips and knees both bent 90° (like sitting in a chair on your back), straighten out the right arm and left leg simultaneously and alternate sides SLOWLY.
- Superman – Lay on your stomach with your arm and legs stretched our (like “Superman” flying). Raise one arm and the opposite leg (i.e. right arm/ left leg) and slowly alternate between the other opposing pair. Make it harder by raising BOTH arms and legs at the same time! NOTE: A pillow under the waist helps.
- Bridge – Lay on your back with your knees bent. Lift your buttocks off the ground and push your heels into the floor. To make it more challenging, you can do one leg at a time.
- Sit-ups – There are three leg positions to make it progressively harder (knees bent/feet flat on floor, knees & hips both bent 90°, etc.). Lift your breast bone towards the ceiling and alternate between coming straight up and left and right trunk twists. If you have a herniated disc, be careful with the trunk twists.
- Side Bridge (Plank) – If no shoulder problems exist, lay sideways propped up on an elbow and lift the hips off the floor to a straight body position.
- Standing squats – Try a quarter, half, or full squat with or without hand weights and with or without a ball squeezed between the knees. Lunges can be substituted or added, if desired. Be careful with this if you have knee pain or knee problem.
- 4-point Quadruped – Kneeling on all fours, straighten out the right arm / left leg and alternate. At the same time, suck in your belly (“abdominal hollowing”) to facilitate the deep transverse abdominis and multifidus muscles. Add a dynamic component by rotating the trunk and approximating your hand to the floor / opposite leg up in the air keeping the body in a straight line.