Expert advice from Kate Bodenberg, DC and Brian Morrison, DC
As chiropractors, we know that the key to managing and preventing low back pain (and a lot of other musculoskeletal aches and pains) is consistent exercise – especially for your core, your abdominal region. Under our watchful eye, patients perform exercises in the clinic and home therapeutic exercises plans are developed and agreed to. Sometimes they do them, sometimes they don’t. Why or why not? The patient may find the prescribed exercises too complicated. The exercises may require certain types of equipment such as a rolled up towel, resistance bands, or dumbbells that the patient does not have or is unwilling to purchase.
Solution? We try to make a game of it by teaching our patients some “Stealthy Exercises.”
Wait! What are stealthy exercises?
These are exercises that can be performed at your office or home, and some can even be done in the car with bystanders being none the wiser! Depending on the number of exercises and volume prescribed, the time to perform stealthy exercises can be less than 5 minutes per day!
We teach the following stealthy exercises to our patients and see their compliance improve and their cores become stronger!
Purpose: Build intra-abdominal pressure to help activate and train the core.
What to do: Sit with your back supported by the chair back, feet on the floor, lumbar pad or roll placed to support lumbar curve. Place one hand on chest and the other hand over the navel. Breath in and out normally, allowing the hand over the navel to rise and fall. The hand over the chest should be motionless.
Perform at least 10-12 breaths. Repeat several times per day.
Cues: Imagine the lungs are balloons filling with air, pushing the abdominal contents down when breathing in. If you have or know a young child, watch them “belly breathe.”
Variation: Lie on back, knees bent, hands positioned as described.
Spine on a String
Purpose: To help achieve a neutral posture to decrease pressure on the vertebral discs by “lengthening” the spine.
What to do: Imagine a string fixed to the crown of your head being pulled superiorly.
Perform: Hold 10 seconds, repeat several times per day, especially on arising after a long period of sitting before you bend or twist.
Purpose: Correct posture, stretch back of the neck extensor muscles, train deep neck flexors (these muscles are the “core” of your neck).
Set-Up: Seated in a chair with head support or car seat.
What to do: Retract and depress scapulae (shoulder blades). Press head straight backwards to head rest (think about keeping your face “flat”, not looking up), retract the chin.
Performance: hold for 2-3 diaphragmatic breaths.
Brugger's Relief Position
Purpose: Reinforce neutral sitting posture to decrease strain on neck and back muscles.
Set-Up: Seated at the edge of a chair. Assume neutral lumbar spine position (do not over-extend low back). Push your sternum up. Chin tuck (see previous exercise) to align the ears over the shoulders. Separate knees and feet shoulder width apart, feet rotated slightly out. Rotate shoulders outward, making sure palms are forward. Relax abdominals. Practice diaphragmatic breathing.
Perform: Hold 10 seconds, 2-3 times for each 20 minutes of constant sitting.
Variation: In the car while stopped at a light or otherwise not driving. Low back in neutral (using the lumbar support in your car if you have one), retract head as above, grip steering wheel at 5 and 7 o’clock, pull toward your waist.
Seated Pelvic Clocks
Purpose: Understand pelvic positioning and engage the core. This is very important for those with chronic, non-specific low back pain.
What to do: Sit on edge of chair. Imagine sitting in the center of a clock, facing 12 o’clock. Feet placed on the floor shoulder width apart. Movement is initiated by the pelvis. Do not shift weight on to either foot. Tilt pelvis anteriorly to 12 o’clock and then posteriorly tilt to 6 o’clock. Right laterally tilt to 3 o’clock and left laterally tilt to 9 o’clock. Roll the pelvis in a clockwise and then counterclockwise direction, hitting the 12, 3, 6, and 9 o’clock positions.
Perform several repetitions a few times per day.
Hands Behind Back
Purpose: Decrease strain on neck and back muscles.
What to do: Standing or walking. Fingers interlocked or one hand holding the other wrist, whichever is more comfortable. Retract and depress scapulae. Approximate elbows. Chin tuck to align the ears over the shoulders.
Perform: Hold at least 10 seconds.
Vele Forward Lean
About the Experts
Kate Bodenberg, DC
Dr. Kate Bodenberg is a 2012 graduate of New York Chiropractic College. She is licensed by the Maryland Board of Chiropractic and Virginia Board of Medicine. Dr. Bodenberg holds certifications in Graston technique and Active Release Technique (ART). Currently, she is working towards her post-graduate certification as a Certified Chiropractic Sports Physician (CCSP). Her practice focus includes general musculoskeletal complaints, running injuries, concussion management, sports sideline care, and rehabilitation. In her spare time Dr. Bodenberg enjoys skiing, hiking and Olympic Lifting. Dr. Bodenberg works with the talented team at Morrison Chiropractic with two locations in Ellicott City and Clarksville, Maryland.
Brian Morrison, DC
Dr. Brian Morrison, clinical instructor at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in the Department of Family & Community Medicine, is a licensed chiropractor with over 27 years of experience in private practice. Dr. Morrison realized early in his career that manipulation and manual therapy were healing arts spanning many disciplines. In addition to chiropractic, he studied the manipulative techniques of osteopathy, orthopedic manual therapy, and various methods of rehabilitation. His practice offers a variety of techniques that feature state of the art manual therapy combined with corrective rehabilitation. He believes providing both pain education and correction of biomechanical dysfunctions can reduce or eliminate pain and restore comfortable, healthy, efficient movement. He recently co-authored a chapter on Integrative Management of Pain in Practical Management of Pain, 5th Ed. H. Benzon Ed. In 2005, the Maryland Chiropractic Association honored him as “Chiropractor of the Year” for his role in creating collegial relationships between the chiropractic and medical communities in Maryland. Dr. Brian Morrison earned his B.S. in biology at the State University of New York at Binghamton. He attended Logan College of Chiropractic in Chesterfield, MO where he graduated magna cum laude, valedictorian from. He went on to complete a residency in Chiropractic Family Practice at Lindell Hospital in affiliation with Barnes and Jewish Hospitals in St. Louis, MO. Dr. Morrison is a featured presenter for the University of Maryland Center for Integrative Health and Healing’s Annual Wellness Conference, Maryland Chiropractic Association, Maryland Massage Therapy Association, DC Dental Society and the Howard County Dental Hygiene Association. He is a member of the Columbia Association Medical Advisory Board.
Dr. Morrison sees patients at the Center for Integrative Health & Healing, the clinical practice of the University of Maryland School of Medicine Center for Integrative Medicine. Call 410-448-6361 or email CIMClinicInfo@som.umaryland.edu for an appointment. Most health insurances are accepted. Reach him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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