I've been exercising on my own after finishing a back rehab program for an injury six months ago. The therapist gave me balance exercises to do. I get on my hands and knees and lift one leg and the opposite arm. I really hate doing these. Are they important enough to keep in the program?
Hands and knees balance exercises are among the core exercises for spinal stability. These exercises are considered core for two reasons. They are central to the program and
also work on the core muscles that provide a stable spine during all postures and movement.
Scientists think that different muscles have different jobs. Some are lcoal muscles. These hold or stabilize the spine in one place. Other muscles are global.
This means they function to produce movement. There's ongoing debate among researchers about which muscles are the most important for each function. The best way to train the motor control system is also being studied.
For now, we know the standard quadruped (on hands and knees) exercises help strengthen the local muscles for control and stability. Doing them properly is probably more important than doing them every day. If possible, use a mirror to watch your posture. Keep your low back and pelvis level. One side shouldn't be higher than the other.
Tighten your abdominal muscles and hold your stomach in without holding your breath. Don't scrunch your shoulders up around your ears. Keep them down while stretching the arm
forward. Avoid tension on your neck by keeping your gaze either down at the floor or just a little ahead of your body.
These exercises are hard to do. The body gets tired easily in these stable core positions. That's why they work well to help the spine hold and why they are important to keep in the program.
Natasa Kavcic, MSc, et al. Determining the Stabilizing Role of Individual Torso Muscles During Rehabilitation Exercises. In Spine. June 1, 2004. Vol. 29. No. 11. Pp. 1254-1265.