When it comes to managing a low back condition, the goal of chiropractic treatment is for the patient return to their normal daily activities as soon as possible. This not only means addressing low back pain but also low back disability, including impaired postural control and reduced spinal stability, which can manifest in reduce position sense, increased postural sway, and impaired balance.
Movement control and spinal stability are controlled the deep muscles, the superficial muscles, and the nervous system that sends information to and from the brain. Dysfunction in ANY of these can result in lumbar spine instability.
To complicate matters, when an injury is present, the body will alter its neuromotor patterns as a protective mechanism. However, this can lead to some muscles becoming overworked while others may become deconditioned. If unaddressed, additional musculoskeletal conditions may result in nearby parts of the body, which explains why patients will often present with multiple seemingly unrelated complaints.
In addition to manual therapies like manipulation and mobilization to restore proper joint movement, treatment for low back pain may also include core stabilization/strengthening exercises and balance exercises.
For abdominal strengthening, one exercise that works well is a spine-sparing sit-up. Place the hands behind the lower back to prevent flattening of the lumbar curve and lift the head and chest as a unit a few inches off the floor, hold for ten seconds, and repeat to tolerance (five to ten reps to start out with).
To strengthen your sides, try a side-bridge or side-plank (from feet or knees), holding for ten seconds and repeating as tolerated.
To strengthen the back, try the front plank. Rest on your forearms in a push-up position for ten seconds and repeat as tolerated. The bird dog is another good exercise. Kneel on your hands and knees and raise the opposite arm and leg without twisting the trunk and hold for ten seconds, repeat with the other arm/leg.
For improved balance, stand on one leg with your eyes open or closed (if able) as long as you can. This stimulates the neuromotor system. Be safe, and do these in a corner to prevent falling!
Make these exercises a habit. Consistency will help improve low back function and you’ll reduce your risk for a future episode of low back pain!