By now it’s a pretty well-known fact that treatment of a spinal injury often involves muscle strengthening exercises. But which type of exercises are the best ones for you? Exercises should be tailored to the individual, taking into account the person’s age, size, fitness level, strength and the severity and chronic/acute nature of the injury. However, a very basic level of core strengthening exercises can speed up recovery time or prevent spinal injuries in the future.
Try these exercises, starting gently at first and gradually increasing over time.
Plank: Start to get in a push-up position, but bend your elbows and rest your weight on your forearms instead of your hands. Your body should form a straight line from your shoulders to your ankles. Make a bridge with your body by supporting yourself on your elbows and toes, forming a straight line with your body, like a “plank.” Make sure your low back is in a neutral position, bracing your stomach to maintain it; imagine you’re trying to move your belly button back to your spine. Don’t let the low back sag. Start with holding for 20 seconds, breathing steadily. As you build endurance, you can do one 60-second set, then progress to two sets of 60-second holds.
Side plank: On your side, form a bridge with your body by supporting yourself on one elbow and the outside edge of one foot. Your body should form a straight line from head to ankles as you lift your hips so your body stays in a straight line, like a plank. Pull your abs in as far as you can and hold this position for 10 to 30 seconds, breathing steadily. Make sure your top hip and shoulder are directly above the bottom hip and shoulder. Hold the straight-line position. Relax. Try for any combination of reps that gets you up to 30 seconds; build up to holding for one minute. Repeat on your other side. Perform 1-2 repetitions on each side.
Just remember to begin slowly and build up gradually. It’s natural to feel a bit achey at first. If the ache doesn’t improve within a couple of days make an appointment and get a checkup. You may need an adjustment as well.