I adore the internet!
I was planning out my exercise routine for the next two weeks, getting ready for the San Antonio Spark team's "Streaking into Fall" challenge. While my back is "some" improved due to the nearly 40 pounds I've lost, it is and will remain a "fragile back", due to spinal stenosis, lumbar degeneration, neural foraminal narrowing, etc. So I researched, researched, and researched some more. So much good information out there if you take the time to weed through some nonsense. I eliminated several types of exercises from my routine that are not back friendly and added many exercises into my routine which will help strengthen and/or alleviate or not aggravate a bad back.
I am determined to do this right and without injuries which may sideline my journey. In the event it might help someone else, I am listing exercise to avoid if you have a bad back. This is information gleaned and combined from at least 8 different sites, all of which are medical sites or sites that specialize in back disorders. I am a bit bummed that some of my favorite weight lifting exercises have to be eliminated, but I can still lift and still get some good iron pumping in, so I have to be satisfied with that. Hope some of this information makes a difference for someone. I know it will for me!
Exercises to AVOID:
ANY EXERCISE WHERE YOU ARE LEANING FORWARD AND PULSING
FULL SIT UPS
DOUBLE LEG LIFTS (too much strain on lower back)
LEG LIFTS WITH LEGS STRAIGHT OUT AS YOU LIE FLAT ON THE FLOOR
LIFTING WEIGHTS ABOVE YOUR HEAD
BENDING OR TWISTING WITH ANY TYPE OF WEIGHT IN YOUR HAND(S)
ANY EXERCISE THAT JARS OR TWISTS THE SPINE INCLUDING SOME DANCE ROUTINES.
TRY THESE INSTEAD:
PARTIAL CRUNCHES: Feet, tail bone, and lower back stay on the floor. Cross arms over chest, lift shoulders as you breathe out. Hold for 5-10 seconds and slowly lower back to floor.
HAMSTRING STRETCHES:Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Pick up one leg with both hands placed behind your knee and then straighten your lower leg. These stretches should be held for about 20 seconds and repeated five times.
ALTERNATING LEG LIFTS WITH ONE KNEE BENT: Try lying on your back with one leg straight and the other leg bent at the knee. Slowly lift the straight leg up about 6 inches and hold briefly. Lower leg slowly. Repeat 10 times, then switch legs.
WALL SITS: Stand 10 to 12 inches from the wall, then lean back until your back is flat against the wall. Slowly slide down until your knees are slightly bent, pressing your lower back into the wall. Hold for a count of 10, then carefully slide back up the wall. Repeat 8 to 12 times.
PRESS UP BACK EXTENSIONS: Lie on your stomach with your hands under your shoulders. Push with your hands so your shoulders begin to lift off the floor. If it's comfortable for you, put your elbows on the floor directly under your shoulders and hold this position for several seconds.
BIRD DOG: Start on your hands and knees, and tighten your stomach muscles. Lift and extend one leg behind you. Keep hips level. Hold for 5 seconds, and then switch to the other leg. Repeat 8 to 12 times for each leg, and try to lengthen the time you hold each lift. Try lifting and extending your opposite arm for each repetition. This exercise is a great way to learn how to stabilize the low back during movement of the arms and legs. While doing this exercise don't let the lower back muscles sag. Only raise the limbs to heights where the low back position can be maintained.
KNEE TO CHEST: Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Bring one knee to your chest, keeping the other foot flat on the floor. Keep your lower back pressed to the floor, and hold for 15 to 30 seconds. Then lower your knee and repeat with the other leg. Do this 2 to 4 times for each leg.
PELVIC TILTS: Lie on your back with knees bent, feet flat on floor. Tighten your stomach by pulling in and imagining your belly button moving toward your spine. You’ll feel your back pressing into the floor, and your hips and pelvis rocking back. Hold for 10 seconds while breathing in and out smoothly.
BRIDGING: Lie on your back with knees bent and just your heels on the floor. Push your heels into the floor, squeeze your buttocks, and lift your hips off the floor until shoulders, hips, and knees are in a straight line. Hold about 6 seconds, and then slowly lower hips to the floor and rest for 10 seconds. Repeat 8 to 12 times. Avoid arching your lower back as your hips move upward. Avoid overarching by tightening your abdominal muscles prior and throughout the lift.
SWIMMING (NO TWISTING STROKES)
So remember: PARTIAL SIT UPS, NOT FULL SIT UPS!
A few other good illustrations:
Wall sits are highly recommended!
Most important, with or without a bad back, KEEP MOVING AND KEEP ON KEEPING ON!