Lumbar Support Exercises

By Dr. Ben Kim
DrBenKim.com

In case you haven't noticed, I'm a huge fan of foam rolling.

Once you get the hang of it, foam rolling can be like getting deep tissue work from a skilled health practitioner, only you can experience it at anytime, and you can linger for as long as you want on areas that need extra attention.

Being an avid tennis player, I can attest to the recuperative powers of foam rolling.

Just ten to fifteen minutes of rolling after heavy workouts makes a huge difference in how I feel the day after.

I place heavy emphasis on rolling my lower extremities and trunk because these are the areas that take the greatest beating over the course of a typical week.

I would say that this holds true for just about all of us, as weight-bearing regions area steadily at work during our waking hours.

To roll your lumbar (lower back) spinal region, begin by sitting with your knees bent and position your foam roller just behind your pelvis.

Lean back slightly and place your hands on the floor behind you, a good foot or so behind the foam roller.

The idea is to support your body weight in a balanced way so that you can transition your lumbar spinal region onto the foam roller.

When you feel like you are balanced, lean back until your lower back region is resting on the foam roller.

Try to evenly distribute your body weight between your feet, your lumbar spinal region, and your arms.

DSC05200

You can roll your lower back along the foam roller in this position and experience mild pressure work and stretching of your lumbar spinal joints. But for far more effective stretching and deep tissue work, fold your arms cross your chest and support your body weight with just your back and feet. Roll back and forth and feel free to slightly rotate your trunk from side to side to target the bigger muscle groups that lie on both sides of your spinal column.

DSC05201

Taking baby steps and using your feet to control how fast you move, roll downward on the foam roller to target your thoracic spinal region (mid back). Again, feel free to rotate a bit from side to side to apply therapeutic pressure to your paraspinal muscles - these muscles that line both sides of your thoracic spine are constantly at work to maintain upright posture, so you can expect to find some bundles of taut and tender muscle fibers. Linger on these areas, and maintain steady breathing as the pressure from the roller relieves tension.

DSC05205

At some point in your rolling session, try rotating to one side and supporting yourself on the elbow of the arm of that side. The roller should now be directly under the muscles and/or ribcage that line that side of your spine. Roll up and down in this position to more fully target your paraspinal muscles, and to provide therapeutic stretching of the ligaments that support your ribcage.

DSC05203

Some "pulls" that occur in the lower or mid back regions that are often diagnosed as muscular strains can actually be sprains of the ligaments that support your ribcage; these ligaments receive little blood supply, and when you are fatigued, they can get sprained or even torn during physical labor. Rolling this area should help promote needed blood flow to this area, as well as some therapeutic stretching of these ligaments, which should decrease risk of injury.

Be sure to switch and do the other side of your spine.

When you're finished rolling your lower back, mid back, and both sides of your ribcage, go back to having the roller right under your spinal column and allow your pelvis and head to "hang off" of either end of the roller. The idea is to allow the roller to push your spine forward while your body is relaxed, enabling a therapeutic stretch of the many ligaments that line your vertebral column. You may need to try a few different "fulcrum" points to discover the point(s) that provide the best overall stretch for your spinal column.

DSC05207

You can actually rest in this position for a few minutes at a time, or for however long as is comfortable. For longer hold times, try using a pillow to support your head and neck.

DSC05208

If you don't have a roller, the one that I continue to recommend can be found here:

J Fit 18-Inch Premium EVA Foam Roller

You might consider the 36" version instead of the 18" version, especially for this exercise, though I believe Amazon ships the 36" version only within the States.

For related articles on how to use a foam roller to keep your body healthy, feel free to view any of the following:

How to Improve Blood Circulation in Your Legs

How to Foam Roll Your IT Band

How to Keep Your Hip Flexors Healthy

How to Foam Roll Your Hip Abductors

How to Stretch and Massage Your Inner Hip Muscles

How to Prevent and Treat Achilles Tendonitis

Dr. Ben KimImprove Your Health With Our Free E-mail Newsletter

Join thousands of people from all over the world who receive our natural health newsletter.

  • 100% free. You can unsubscribe anytime.
  • No spam. We respect and protect your privacy at all times.
  • Valuable information that you can use to improve the quality of your health and life.
First Name:
Email:

Reviews

Just a note to let you know how much I appreciate your newsletter. As a fellow health care provider (optometrist) and medical researcher, I find your distillation of the literature into lay terms to be accurate and very understandable. I really enjoyed your contribution regarding macular degeneration. Keep up the good work. - Kristine Erickson, OD, PhD, FAAO

I get a lot of e-mailed newsletters and yours is the only one I read thoroughly from top to bottom. Your advice is enlightening, educational, easy to follow and it works! Thank you so much for all that you offer. - Lisa Abramovic

Thanks for your excellent health newsletter. I look forward to it every week. Thanks for providing the best online health resource I have found. - Moorea Maguire

I'm sure as a doctor you hear your share of complaints. I just thought you'd like to know that there's at least one person in your "e-audience" that appreciates the time and effort you put into sending the emails. I really look forward to them. - Linda H., Raleigh, North Carolina

Many of my adult ESL students are Korean, and enjoy bits and pieces from your newsletter that I have shared with them. In addition to your logical approach to health, I enjoy sharing your newsletter because your English is unfailingly correct as well as easily understood. Thank you for your beautiful approach to life. - J. Zetterstrom

I thank you and your staff for such a great website. I am former National Level Bodybuilder so I know a thing or two about health and fitness. Your site is very valuable and I do my best to pass it on to friends and people I train. It is also a helpful resource in my career as a human service provider working with clients who need to recover from substance abuse. I believe a major part of recovery is getting your body and mind feeling healthy and strong. Thank you again! Great Website! - Michael Christopher, MSW

I truly appreciate your wonderful newsletter - your balanced and professional way of looking at issues is so helpful! - Erica H.

First Name:
Email:




Disclaimer: Throughout this website, statements are made pertaining to the properties and/or functions of food and/or nutritional products. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and these materials and products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.