The following exercises are designed with three goals in mind. First, they will teach you different positions in which you can hold your pelvis and low back to minimize strain on damaged tissues. Second, the will teach you balance and control in these positions—a healthy low back and pelvis depends as much on a well coordinated nervous system as anything else. Third, they will develop and teach you to use your “core” muscles, i.e., the muscles that provide support and control for your joints and posture. Practice the basic versions of exercise thoroughly before moving on to the more difficult versions. The exercises should be demanding, but pain free.
Start Position: Grab the lat pull bar with an overhand grip as shown, with one leg up and the other kneeling on the floor.
End Position: Pull the bar downward to chest level. Make sure that the upper body is in proper alignment, perpendicular with the floor.
Start with one set of 10 reps (1×10) and build to 3 sets of 10 reps (3×10)
2. Back Extension
Start Position: Set the height of the hip pads to hip level. Lie face-down on the machine with your heels under the bottom pads, thighs against the upper pads, hands behind your head and legs and trunk straight.
End Position: Keeping the trunk and back straight, bend forward at the waist until the trunk is pointing to the floor. Pause at the bottom and then return to the starting position by lifting your upper body in segments – low back, mid back and upper back. Make sure that you don’t go into hyperextension when doing this exercise. Hold your contraction in extension for 2-3 seconds. Start with one set of 10 reps (1×10) and build to 3 sets of 10 reps (3×10)
Start Position: Place your back and arms against the pads. Hold yourself up with your forearms on the pads by depressing your shoulders (pushing down). This will take the pressure of the shoulder joint.
End Position: Bring your legs up to 900 of hip flexion (thighs parallel to the floor). Keep your back flat against the back of the padding throughout the exercise.
Focus on lifting your legs in a controlled manner, using your lower abs and hip flexors. Hold the top position for at least 2-3 seconds. Start with one set of 10 reps (1×10) and build up to 3 sets of 10 reps (3×10). The next progression for this exercise is to lift one leg at a time until the thigh is parallel to the floor.
4. Reverse Back Extensions
Start Position: Lie face down on the back extension machine and grab the foot pad with both hands. Keep the upper body parallel to the floor by extending your arms.
End Position: Slowly lift your legs using the muscles of the low back and glutes. Hold the extended position for 2-3 seconds. Don’t lift you r legs any higher than parallel to the floor. You should be in a straight line when you are at the end position. Start with one set of 10 reps (1×10) and build to 3 sets of 10 reps (3×10). The next progression for this exercise is to alternate scissors kicks with each leg.
Start Position: Lie in a supine position with knees bent to 900, heels on the floor and toes up.
End Position: Set your abs, contract your glutes (squeeze your cheeks together) and push up through your heels to lift your hips and lower back off the floor until there is a straight line between your knees and shoulders. Hold for 2-3 seconds, return to start position and repeat. Start with one set of 10 reps (1×10) and build to 3 sets of 10 reps (3×10). The next progression for this exercise is a single leg bridge.
Start Position: Lie in a prone position with your arms and legs extended.
End Position: Lift both legs and arms off the floor at the same time and hold for 2-3 seconds. Return to start position and repeat. Start with one set of 10 reps (1×10) and build to 3 sets of 10 reps (3×10).
Nathan Lucero, LATC, CSCS