Low Back Strengthening

Many people struggle with lower back pain. In fact, back pain is the number two reason people miss work, second only to the common cold. During a pandemic, when many people are working from home, complaints of lower back pain increase, as more people work in unconventional sitting positions or nontraditional locations. Thankfully, some simple exercises that help support the lower back can alleviate some of the pain you may be experiencing.

People don’t often realize that lower-back pain may arise or be exacerbated because of weak abdominal muscles, but if you think about this, it makes sense. The muscles of the lower abdomen are directly opposite the lower back muscles, and strengthening them supports the lumbar spine and can diminish the pain in the muscles that surround and support the lumbar spine. These exercises focus on stretching and strengthening the lumbar spine and also focus on engaging the lower abdominal muscles, creating a strong, stable support system for the entire lumbar region.

Try to breathe in through the nose and breath out through the mouth while you perform this simple exercise routine, and to devote 5 minutes or so of each day to reducing or eliminating your lower back pain.

The first exercise focuses on the deep abdominal muscles and the muscles that run parallel to the spine. Sit up tall on a mat with your legs in front of you, with your knees bent and your feet at hip width apart, bottoms of the feet flat on the mat. Raise your arms out in front of you, perpendicular to your torso and at shoulder height. Pull your belly button in toward your spine and slowly roll back toward the ground, stopping about halfway down. Relax your shoulders and engage your abdominal muscles; your palms should be aligned with your knees. Exhaling, roll back up and return to a seated position. Remember to keep the belly button engaged and pulling in toward the spine. Repeat this movement ten times.

The second exercise is plank pose, which is one of the best overall exercises for back strength and abdominal strength and which also encourages proper spinal alignment. Beginning on your hands and knees, make sure your hands are at shoulder width, directly beneath the shoulders, and the knees are at hip width. Engage the abdominal muscles and step the feet back so that your body forms a plank position. Make sure your shoulders stay in place over your wrists, and spread your fingers so that the breadth of your hands supports your weight. Keep the back flat, taking care not to let it arch or sag, and hold for 10 seconds. When you first start out, repeat plank 3 times, eventually working up to 10 repetitions of 10 seconds each.

In yoga, the third exercise is known as locust pose, but it’s popularly known as Superman pose. Superman pose engages the entire back, including the backs of the legs and the glutes. Lie on the mat on your stomach with your arms reaching forward and your legs extended back. Keep the feet at hip width and the arms at shoulder width, and pull the belly button in toward the spine to engage the muscles of the abdomen. Relaxing your shoulders, lift your arms off the ground, while also engaging your glutes and thighs to lift the legs off the ground. Now you can see why it’s called Superman pose!  Continue to engage your abdominal muscles to help keep pressure off the lower back. Hold for an inhalation and an exhalation, and then release. Repeat this pose 10 times.

The fourth exercise starts out like Superman pose; lie on your stomach and engage your abs, and extend the arms and legs. This pose is known as swimming, though, because instead of lifting both arms and both legs simultaneously, you’ll lift the right arm and the left leg at the same time, as if you are swimming. Then, you’ll release, and then lift the left arm and right leg. Remembering to keep the abdominal muscles engaged, alternate this “swimming” arm and leg movement for 30 seconds.

The last exercise is marching bridge. Make sure to keep your hips stable and steady as you move your feet; if it’s helpful, place your hands on your hips to remind them to stay still. Lying on your back with your knees bent, open feet as wide as your hips. Relax your arms down by your sides and pull your belly button in toward your back. Gently roll the hips up, so that your lower back and middle back are elevated off the ground, pressing down through the feet and engaging the glutes. Lift the left foot off the ground to about a 45-degree angle, maintaining even, stable hips. Then, lower the left foot, and lift the right, alternating the feet as if you’re marching. Repeat this for 10 times on each side.

These five simple exercises can be performed daily and can help you train and strengthen your lower back, preventing the common hassle that is lower back pain.

The American Chiropractic Association Has Endorsed the bellicon® Fitness Trampoline

For the first time ever, the American Chiropractic Association (ACA) has endorsed a piece of exercise equipment. The ACA is the largest professional chiropractic association in the United States. The endorsement is a signal that the organization has confidence that the product is worthwhile and beneficial.

About the bellicon® Fitness Trampoline

The ACA has endorsed four versions of the bellicon® Fitness Trampoline. These include:

  • The bellicon® Classic fitness trampoline
  • The bellicon® Premium fitness trampoline
  • The bellicon® Plus fitness trampoline
  • The bellicon® Basic Bungee Mini-Trampoline/Rebounder

As we mentioned above, these are the first fitness products ever to earn an endorsement from the American Chiropractic Association.

The first bellicon® trampolines were launched in Cologne, Germany, in 1995. They have replaced the traditional metal springs of the earliest trampolines with a patented bungee suspension. The bungee cords are custom-formulated and provide bellicon® trampolines with unique features that make them stand out from trampolines made by their competitors.

According to the people at bellicon®, their trampoline design “has been engineered to maximize fitness and health benefits while using a low-impact performance that’s gentle on your body.” The trampolines have a unique design and unmatched quality, making them the industry standard of excellence for more than 20 years.

How Does the American Chiropractic Association Evaluate the Products It Endorses?

Because this is the first time that the ACA has endorsed a piece of fitness equipment, it may be useful to understand how they choose and evaluate the products they endorse.

According to the ACA, endorsements are given only to the products they decide are of the highest quality. Every product they endorse is put through a complete review and analysis that includes extensive testing and evaluation by a review board. The members of the board are doctors of
chiropractic with specific expertise related to the product being considered.

Evaluations must also receive final approval from the ACA’s Board of Governors. Even after a product has been evaluated and endorsed, the ACA reviews the product regularly to make sure that it continues to meet the same high standards it had when the endorsement was first approved.

Other products that have received a coveted endorsement from the ACA include:

  • Flexispot, which makes ergonomic desks and workstations
  • Stressless, a furniture manufacturer that makes comfortable, supportive chairs and sofas
  • Moonrock, which manufactures ergonomic school bags for kids

Why Did the ACA Choose to Endorse bellicon®?

According to the ACA, they chose to endorse the bellicon because of its customizable and safety features, which they say set it apart from similar products on the marketplace. The ACA prioritizes the safety and comfort of patients.

When the ACA made its evaluation of bellicon®, it noted that the mini-trampoline is unique, being the only exercise trampoline with a suspension that is available in multiple resistance strengths. That’s a feature that allows each customer to enjoy performance and comfort that are ideally suited to their weight and fitness level.

They also noted that the variability and customization mean that people who use bellicon® trampolines can adapt them to suit a variety of health problems. As you might expect, the specific health issues cited were those that are commonly treated by chiropractors, including issues involving:

  • Spinal alignment
  • Proprioception
  • Lymphatic circulation
  • Muscular imbalances
  • Bone density

They also mentioned in their evaluation that bellicon® mini-trampolines are larger and sturdier than the other mini-trampolines that are available. The sturdiness and larger size equate to greater stability, increased user-friendliness, and optimal comfort for the person using the trampoline.

In their official statement, ACA President Robert C. Jones, DC, said: The American Chiropractic Association is pleased to endorse quality products such as the bellicon® fitness trampoline, which features an innovative design and variability that enhances performance as well as safety for users.

When the ACA made its announcement, bellicon® USA CEO Phillip von Kunhardt said: We at bellicon® are very proud that our product has been so helpful to so many people, especially those who are most in need of care. We are grateful for the ACA endorsement and hope that it inspires even more people to enjoy all of the health and fitness benefits that the bellicon® has to offer.

People who are eager to try the bellicon® Mini Trampoline can do so with confidence, secure in the fact that the ACA has tested it and is happy to recommend it.

Suffering From Back Pain? Avoid These Four Exercises

Back pain is either chronic, meaning that you wake up every day in pain, or you move wrong and end up hurting seemingly out of the blue. Either way, you’re told to exercise, as that will alleviate the pain. While this works – somewhat – there are some exercises that you just shouldn’t do, as they put too much pressure on your back. They’ll actually make your pain worse. Here are the four worst offenders, as well as some good alternatives.

1) Sit Ups

Traditional sit-ups will strengthen your core muscles, especially those in your abdomen. Ideally, they’ll make your back better, since the front muscles will add support. However, they need to be avoided, since they put pressure on your spine and will make your back pain much worse.

The Alternative: Partial Crunches

Partial crunches are designed to strengthen your abdominal muscles but in a back-friendly way. Start by laying on your back with both feet flat on the floor and your knees bent, facing the ceiling. Place your hands behind your neck in order to give it some support. Then, raise your shoulders off of the floor by
tightening your abdominal muscles. Do not use your arms. Lower yourself back down and repeat.

2) Superman Back Extensions

This exercise involves laying flat on the floor face down while lifting your arms and legs up. It looks impressive, especially if you can hold it for a period of time. The problem is that it stresses your lower back.

The Alternative: The Bird-Dog

This exercises actually strengthens your lower back without stressing it. Start out on your hands and knees and then extend one leg behind you to hip level. Raise the opposite arm to shoulder level at the same time. Use your abdominal muscles, but don’t tilt your pelvis. Hold this position for a brief count
and then repeat on the other side.

3) Standing Toe Touches

This is a common stretching exercise that will help your hamstrings. There are few things more painful than a tight or pulled hamstring, except for an injured back. That’s what you may end up with if you attempt this stretch when you have a history of back pain.

The Alternative: Stretches With a Towel

For this stretch, start out on your back and bend one knee. Place a towel around the foot of your extended leg. Straighten your knee as you use the towel to pull that leg up off of the floor. Hold the position for 20 seconds before repeating on the other side. Your back should remain flat on the floor the entire time.

4) Double Leg Lifts

We’ve already gone over how a strong core can keep back pain at bay. However, if you do double leg lifts, you risk injuring your lower back.

The Alternative: One Leg Lifts

Place yourself in the same position as for the towel stretches. Lift one straight up and hold it in place. Repeat with the other leg, once again, keeping your back flat on the floor. If you have any questions on these exercises, make an appointment to see your local chiropractor.

How to Maintain a Healthy Spine and Body at the Office

What’s that phrase? Something about sitting being the Smoking of the 21 st Century? It doesn’t seem possible, but research backs it up.

A few decades ago, before email, paperless transactions, and paperless files, it was necessary to leave your desk periodically during the day. Trips around the office were made to make copies, grab a file, file a folder, and use the FAX machine. While these tiny trips may have seemed unimportant at the time, they did get people out of their chairs.

To help prevent serious health issues and maintain spinal health, there are a few things you can do.

One, make an appointment for regular chiropractic care to ensure your structure keeps its proper alignment.

Two, develop a routine you can do at your desk. Here are a few suggestions to try.

First, Breathe

We all breath, both consciously and unconsciously. But, that doesn’t mean we do it correctly. Breathing correctly gives our cells the correct amount of oxygen they need to work correctly. It also helps lower stress and tension throughout the body.

Try this exercise to retrain yourself to breathe the right way.

  • Sit up in a straight but gentle posture.
  • Keep your shoulders down and back.
  • Inhale through your nose, so the air goes all the way down and pushes your stomach outward.
  • Pause 2 seconds.
  • Exhale through your mouth.
  • Pause 2 seconds.
  • Repeat

Do this every 15 minutes for 30-seconds.

Next, Take Time to Stretch

It’s very easy when we’re busy or focused on a project to forget our posture. A good way to bring ourselves out of the poor posture habit is through stretching. Here are a few ways.

Upper Body

  • Begin by sitting up straight.
  • Bring your arms out to each side, keeping your shoulders back and down, palms facing up.
  • Stretch your arms backward as far as you can and hold 2 seconds or more.
  • Alternatively, stand inside an open doorframe stretching your arms out to touch either side. Move slightly forward to give your arms, shoulders and
  • upper back a stretch.

Lower Body

  • Begin seated with both feet flat on the floor.
  • Bring up your right ankle and place it on your left knee.
  • Gently move your right knee toward the floor, then lean forward as far as possible and let your hands fall toward the floor and dangle.
  • Reverse sides and repeat.

Do these stretches every 30 minutes, for 2-minutes.

Also, drink a lot of water. When our muscles tense up toxin build-up. Drinking plenty of water will help keep your body flushed out, especially after your stretching routine.

Finally, Walk Around

The easiest way to remember to walk is by taking full advantage of bathroom breaks. Remember that water you’e supposed to be drinking? Besides all its other health benefits, it will also make sure you have to “get up and go” regularly.

But, don’t stop there. Consider taking the stairs to the restroom on a different floor. Or, take a circuitous route instead of a direct one, just make sure you don’t get distracted along the way.

Have an hour lunch? Use 30 minutes to walk across the street and back, or to the local park. You’ll get a lot of steps and still have time to eat something afterward.

Keep Moving, Even in Your Chair

Some work demands prolonged sitting time. You can do things to help make sure you don’t suffer unnecessarily for it.

Reaves Chiropractic