Healthy Back.

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Would you like to learn how exercise can help relieve your back pain?

In our opinion too many people live with back pain and it is our mission to help you get rid of your pain and fully enjoy life again. Let's face it, it's not fun when you have to think about how to put your socks on every morning. It's also not fun when you can't play with your children or grandchildren because your back hurts all the time.

We love helping you get rid of that discomfort and pain. In order to help you to our best ability we have to measure the curvature of your spine first and then we can test your deep core muscles. These results will allow us to show you which exercises will get you the best results in the shortest amount of time.

We believe in building good habits and this means that you will get homework to practise every day. We understand the value of time and that very few people have spare amounts of it and that's why our homework doesn't take you any longer than 10-15 minutes per day. We have found that people who exercise with us once or twice a week (individually or in small group) can improve the health of their back significantly within 12 to 16 weeks.

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Try these very effective exercises to improve the health of your back instantly.

Day 1 - McKenzie Press Up

The McKenzie Press Up is a great exercise for everyone who spends a lot of time in a flexed position. If you work at a desk, sit a lot or if cycling is your sport this exercise can be of great benefit to you.

Lie face down on the floor with your hand placed just outside the top of your shoulders.

Exhale as you press your upper body upward as though you're doing a press up but keep your pelvis on the ground. It is important to relax the glutes and spinal muscles while performing the exercise.

Repeat 10 times, beginning with one set and work up to 3 sets. You can perform this exercise several times a day to relieve back pain from sitting.

Day 2 - 4-point tummy vacuum.

This exercise helps you re-train your deep abdominal wall and create a flatter stomach. The transverse abdominis is also your natural belt which protects your spine at any given time.

Assume a kneeling position with your hips over your knees and your shoulders over your hands. With your spine in neutral alignment, take a deep breath in and let your belly drop towards the floor.

Exhale and draw your belly button in towards your spine while keeping your back in neutral.

Hold for as long as you comfortably can.

When you need to breathe in, relax your abdominal wall as you inhale and repeat the exercise for 10 repetitions.

Day 3 - Horse Stance Vertical.

The horse stance activates the inner unit which consists of the transverse abdominis, thoracic diaphragm, multifidus and pelvic floor. A proper inhalation will activate the diaphragm — gently drawing the belly button in will activate the TVA (as you practised yesterday) —performing a Kegal will activate the pelvic floor — and the asymmetric lifting of opposite hand and knee activates the multifidus. With this one exercise the entire inner unit of the core is trained!

Place your hands directly under your shoulders and your knees under your hips.

Activate the TVA by drawing the belly button in.

Lift one hand off the floor just enough to slide a sheet of paper between the hand and the floor. The opposite knee is then elevated off the floor the the same height.

Hold for 10 seconds and switch sides.
Perform 10 times on each side for a total of 20 reps.

Day 4 - Prone Cobra.

Are you spending too much time at your desk? Do you get tension in your shoulders and neck? The prone cobra is an excellent posture trainer. At your desk chances are very high that your head travels forward to read that important email and your shoulders are rounded to type your awesome reply. During the prone cobra you'll do the complete opposite. Pull your shoulders back, squeeze the shouldersblades together and pull your head back. This exercise is excellent to train the endurance of your back muscles.

Lie face down on a mat and rest your arms at your side.

Lift your torso while simultaneously squeezing your shoulder blades together and externally rotating your arms, thumbs pointing up.

When you have reached the proper end position, your palms should face away from your body, your head and neck in neutral alignment and your toes touching the ground. Hold as long as possible and rest half the time of the hold. The goal is to be able to hold for 3 minutes straight.

We like to start off with 6x 30 second holds with 15 seconds of rest in between reps.

Note: do not allow your head to roll backwards (keep looking straight down).

Day 5 - Feldenkrais Shoulder/Spine integrator.

Another great way to mobilise your back is the shoulder/spine integrator. As the name predicts, it's a great way to integrate the shoulder with the spine. In the video I don't have head support so when you try this at home please put a pillow underneath your head.

Lie on your side with a foam roller, pillow or towel underneath your head. Put your tongue on the roof of your mouth.

Your hips and knees at a 90-degree angle with your feet on top of each other.

Place your top hand on your forehead and gently rotate your neck backwards as you inhale.

Exhale and return to the start position.
Perform 16-20 repetitions on each side.

Day 6 - Alternating Prone Superman.

The alternating prone superman activates the posterior oblique sling. It activates the whole muscular chain which runs from one arm to the opposite leg. By focusing on small movement you fire up the small, stabilising muscles around the spine. This is a great prehab or rehab exercise for anyone who struggles with their back.

Start face down on the floor.

Lift your left arm and right leg so that they are at about the same height.

You arm should be at a 45 degree angle from your head with your thumb pointing up.

Hold this position for as long as you can with good form (10 seconds) and switch sides.
Repeat 5 times on each side.

Day 7 - Shortstop TVA.

The focus will be on activating the deep abdominal muscle in a more functional position (i.e. standing). When in this position try not to rest your hands on your knees but just let your fingers or palms gently touch the front of the knee. While activating the TVA you will also train the endurance of the muscles in your low back. It is key to stand up if you feel too much fatigue in your low back. Always work with a nice neutral spine.

Assume the start position by pushing your hips back and let your hand slide down your legs until you reach the front of your knees.

With your spine in neutral alignment, take a deep breath in and let your belly drop towards the floor.

Exhale and draw your belly button in towards your spine while keeping your back in the start position.

Hold for as long as you comfortably can.
Repeat 10-20 times.

Day 8 - Supine Hip Extension Back On Ball.

Strong bum, Stable back with the supine hip extension back on ball. The hip thrust exercise helps you the strengthen your glutes, hamstrings, quads and low back. Stabiliser muscles get activated when you perform the exercise on a ball.

Start by sitting on a Swiss Ball and roll back so that your upper back, shoulders and head rest on the ball.

Pick your hips up so that your shoulders, hips and knees are in a straight line. Keep your shins vertical at all times.

Slowly drop your pelvis straight down, as low as you comfortably can, then left your hips back up to the ceiling. Keep your head and upper back on the ball.

You should not roll forward or backwards on the ball as you perform the exercise (it is ok if the ball rolls slightly forward as you drop down, but your knees should not move in front of your feet).

Hold your hips up for 10 seconds before you slowly drop the hips.
Repeat 10 times.

Day 9 - Forward Ball Roll.

The forward ball roll is one of the exercises which works very well for training both stabilisation and strength of the abdominal wall but it's often performed in a bad way.

Start in a kneeling position with your forearms on the Swiss ball and your palms facing each other.

Take a deep breath and gently draw your belly button towards the spine. Make sure you maintain good spinal alignment by placing a towel roll on the 3 points of contact (head, middle back and sacrum).

Begin rolling forward, moving equally from the hip and shoulder joints.

Stop just short of the point at which your to lose your ability to hold the spine in perfect alignment.
At the endpoint, roll back to the starting position as you exhale.

For stabiliser endurance: roll out to 40% effort and hold the end position for up to 2 minutes.

For strength: Start off with 8 controlled reps and work your way up to 12.

Day 10 - Swiss Ball Jack Knife.

During the prone jack knife it is important to maintain a neutral spine and make the lower abdominals work harder. The easiest way to check if your spine is in neutral is to put a dowel rod or a stick on your back, maintaining 3 points of contact (back of the head, between the shoulder blades and at the base of the spine).

Place your hand behind your back at the level of your belly button and make sure the gap between the dowel rod and your back is the thickness of your hand.

Prior to flexing the hips, draw the belly button in, making sure the hips do not drive upwards. If the hips do drive upwards, use a smaller ball.

As you bring your knees forward, do not allow your hips to rotate and round your low back. Maintaining the 3 points of contact at all time.

Breathe naturally and let the exercise follow the pace of your breathing.

Start off with 8 controlled reps and work your way up to 12.

Day 11 - Supine Hip Extension Feet on Ball.

More fun with the Swiss Ball today! Beginners place your calves on the Swiss Ball and arms out wide with the palms up. The closer the arms are to the body, the harder the exercise becomes.

Extend from the hips until the ankle, hip and shoulder joints are all in one line. Avoid extending beyond this point as it may place excessive stress on the cervical spine.

If the exercise is uncomfortable on the neck, cervical stress can be reduced by using a smaller ball.

Hold for 5 seconds.
Repeat 10 times.

Day 12 - Static Swiss Ball side flexion.

Today we're showing the Static Swiss Ball Side flexion exercise. Ideally, you have your foot against a wall so that you don't slip all the time . We focus on holding the static position to get a isometric contraction of the oblique muscles while the spine is in neutral. We aim to increase muscular endurance with the exercise, working our way up to longer holds.

Sit on the Swiss ball with one foot against a wall and one on the floor.

Slowly rotate over the ball so that the upper thigh of the top leg is in line with your body.

While lying sideways you can hold your arms at your sides or make it a bit more difficult and cross your arms over your shoulders.

Start by holding for just 5 seconds and slowly build yourself up until you can hold for 60 seconds.

Day 13 - Supine Lateral Ball Roll.

On day 13 of our Back Pain Awareness month it's time for a serious BIG BANG exercise. The supine lateral ball roll is excellent for training in all planes of movement and training all the sling systems of the body. This is still a phase one back exercise because there's no vertical loading of the spine. Strength, stability and endurance is required to perform this exercise perfectly.

Set up:
Place your head and shoulders on the Swiss ball.

Elevate your hips until your torso is as flat as a table top and your knees directly over your ankles.

Tongue on the roof of your mouth, behind the top teeth.
Arms at 90° to your body with the palms facing up.

What to do:
Roll laterally, holding this exact position. Do not allow the to flex your head (don't bring your chin to your chest), arms to lose their parallel relationship to the floor or your hips to drop.
As you roll to the side it is important to stay in the same alignment when you reach the end hold position. Focus on keeping the hips up and the arms parallel to the floor.
For stabiliser endurance, hold the end position for 10 seconds on each side, 10 reps on each side.

Build yourself up to this amount of time under tension. Start off with just 1x 10 seconds hold on each side and slowly increase the amount of reps.

Day 14 - Swiss Ball Crunch.

To complete the 2nd week of our Back Pain Awareness month we are demonstrating the Swiss Ball Crunch. Did you know that the rectus abdominis works 40° below horizontal? You're missing out on a full development of your abdominal wall if you only crunch from horizontal upward (i.e. floor crunches). Because of the flexion we advise you to listen to your body and not curl up too high. CAUTION: if you get dizzy when looking up at the sky or reaching into cupboards overhead, you may move a little more forward on the ball to perform this exercise. Stop the exercise immediately if you feel dizzy. This indicates a decrease in the blood supply to the brain and may be a symptom of vertebral artery occlusion.

Lie over a Swiss Ball so that your back is comfortably on the ball. Your head should be extended back and touching the ball.

Your tongue should be on the roof of your mouth.
As you slowly crunch up, imagine rolling your spine from head to pelvis.

On the way back, unwind from the low back to your head, one vertebra at a time.

Exhale on the way up and inhale on the way back.
Keep the tempo slow, at breathing pace and work up to 20 reps.

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