In my last post I talked all about how I'm taking a new approach to strengthening up my core and hopefully finding some much-needed relief for my back. After a lengthy discussion with my physiotherapist I came to the realization that I've failed in getting my core strength back because I always end up losing direction after the first few weeks.
It always goes something like this: I can easily activate the transverse abdominus (TrA) and hold it just fine and even work my way up to being able to lift my legs, slide them out and all kinds of other movements while keeping the TrA activated, but then what?
The next step is not traditional ab exercises like crunches and stuff. Nope, I've tried that and they just aggravate my abdominal separation and besides, aren't even the same muscle group as those deep stabilizers anyways. Oops. The next step is not hardcore planking regimes either. Nope, tried that and ended up sending myself into this last back pain episode and it totally sucks.
The next step is also not jumping straight to tougher stability exercises like full bird dog and kneeling on stability balls etc. Nope, theres a lot more strengthening that needs to happen before you can do these ones correctly.
So what IS next? Well I'm hoping that the book my physiotherapist recommended is going to tell me! She has found great success with her patients using the workout progressions laid out in Spinal Stabilization: The New Science of Back Pain by Rick Jemmett.
Courtesy of Amazon.com
I've got the book on order from Amazon.com and so far am working from a printout my physio gave me of the first level of exercises. And I was right, I'm back to the very beginning of stability work.
Here's what my routine looks like at the Beginner Level 1. Standing on one foot 2. Sitting on stability ball, wide foot stance, arms out to the sides and moving 3. Basic transverse abdominus activation (laying on the floor and activating the TrA) 4. Basic TrA activation with feet on the floor, knees up and then lowering legs out to the side 5. Bridges with your arms straight up in the air, wide foot stance 6. Basic plank from the knees 7. Laying on my tummy, lifting one leg at a time
A shot of my current page of exercises...
Each of these exercises is performed while activating the TrA and holding it for a certain amount of time. I'm supposed to start with 10 reps of 10 sec each and then increase according to the following progression 1. Hold for 10 sec, repeat 10 times 2. Hold for 20 sec, repeat 8 times 3. Hold for 30 sec, repeat 6 times 4. Hold for 40 sec, repeat 4 times
I've committed to doing this stability program right from the start and working my way through the whole thing (there are many, many levels to come from beginner to advanced exercises) but I gotta tell ya, some of these things feel so easy when I'm only holding them for 10 sec at a time. On the other hand, there are a few I can barely hold correctly for that length of time, it's crazy.
Anyhow, I'm also doing some additional stability-type exercises like lifting a weighted ball up over my head from counter height and this weird modified push-up thing that is supposed to stretch out my lower back. I'm hoping that you can get an idea of just how small I am starting with all of this. Sigh.
Meet my new friend Mr 8lb Ball
I'm looking forward to getting my hands on the full book so I can read through all of the background and everything that goes along with it. Hopefully this program will be what finally makes a difference...