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  Bret Bailey, Licensed Massage Therapist  
Bret Bailey, Licensed Massage Therapist

Self Care Between Massages

Hello Core Strength - Goodbye Lower Back Pain
by Bret Bailey, LMT

Tip #5 - April, 2010

Now that we're well into spring and becoming more active with each progressively warmer weekend, I'd like to mention a few simple, yet fundamental exercises that you can do, at the gym or even at home. Exercises that may not only help to keep you physically balanced, but may even help reduce your chances of developing lower back pain. Core exercises.

For many of you, these are exercises that you've been familiar with for a long time. Maybe you still do them regularly, or maybe you've let the routine slide during the past, less active months, but for others, this may be your first introduction. Either way, I'd like this month's tip to apply to you all. Both as an introduction to newbies, and as a reinforcment of a great lifelong habit. A habit that I believe will give you a sound advantage in the active months ahead.

What I love about core exercises is both their simplicity and their accompanying long list of benefits. Some of which you might enjoy:

1) Reduced incidence of low back pain.
2) Easier, fuller breathing.
3) Overall improvement of balance, coordination and flexibility.
4) Increased ease and performance during athletic activities.
5) Firmer abs.

Okay, the list is actually much longer, but I'd like to get to the exercises before the sun sets, so lets get to it.

Here are the Core Exercises we'll focus on:

(As always, please consult your physician before beginning any exercise program.)

1) Superman Pose - strengthens the lower back

  • Lie on your stomach.
  • Like Superman, stretch your arms forward, bringing your palms to rest on the floor.
  • Tighten your abdominal muscles.
  • Raise your arms and legs from the floor.
  • Hold for 10 - 60 seconds while breathing deeply and fully.
  • Continue to tighten those abs.
  • Repeat 5 times.

To modify this pose:

  • lift one arm, and take 3 breaths, release.
  • lift the other arm, taking 3 breaths, release.
  • lift on leg, taking 3 breaths, release.
  • lift the other leg, take 3 breaths, release.
  • Repeat as above.

2) Plank Pose - strengthens back and abs

  • Lie on your stomach.
  • Bring your elbows below your shoulders, with palms to floor.
  • Move your lower extremity weight so that you're on your toes.
  • Your weight should now be on your forearms and your toes
  • Like a Plank, keep you legs, back, and head in a straight line.
  • Tighten your abs.
  • Breath deeply and fully, and hold the pose for 10 - 60 seconds.
  • Release by gently exhaling and lying back on the floor.
  • Rest for 5 - 30 seconds.
  • Repeat up to 5 times.

To modify this pose:

  • Do the same as above, but instead, bring your knees to the ground, and feel how much easier this make the pose.
  • Repeat as above.

3) Bridge Pose - strengthens the glutes, abs and back

  • Lie on your back.
  • Arms to sides.
  • Knees bent.
  • Feet flat on floor, directly below your knees.
  • Tighten your abs and glutes.
  • Raise your buttocks from floor.
  • Create a straight line between knees and shoulders.
  • Hold for 10 - 60 seconds, then rest on the floor.
  • Repeat up to 5 times.

4) Abdominal Crunches

  • Lie on your back.
  • Legs slightly bent.
  • Feet flat on the floor.
  • Cross your arms over your chest, or place your hands by your head, with elbows out to sides.
  • Always be careful not to pull on your head or neck.
  • Tighten your abs.
  • Take a full breath.
  • As you exhale, bring your upper body towards your knees (your ribs toward your hips).
  • Keep your lower back in contact with the floor.
  • Your chin may be slightly flexed as you rise, but should not touch your chest as it may strain your neck.
  • Hold briefly, and then slowly return to the floor as you inhale.
  • Repeat 5 - 50 times, for 1 - 3 reps.

Again, it's very important to be mindful of the head and neck - they may be supported, but not pulled, as you may strain your neck.

5) Bicycle Crunches - this is a challenge exercise for more advanced abdominal work

  • Lie on your back.
  • Bring your knees up toward your chest, at about 45 degrees.
  • Bring your hands up next to your ears.
  • Basically, you will begin slowly moving your legs, like you're peddling a bicycle.
  • As your right leg comes toward your head, bring your opposite elbow toward it - almost touching.
  • Then, as your left leg comes up, you'll bring you opposite elbow toward it.
  • Repeat 2 - 30 times, for 1 - 5 reps

As with any exercises, please start off slowly, always respecting your body, with the goal of gradually increasing repetitions as the days progress. Also, it's often recommended to alternate hard exercise days with easy ones so as to give your muscles time to recover.

Thanks for joining me this month, and I hope this tip will bring you some relief between massages. Until next time, be well, and keep those cores strong.

All the best,

Bret Bailey, LMT

This information is not intended to replace the advice of a physician.

Please feel free to contact me with any comments, questions, or suggestions- just click here.

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Self Care Between Massages - Tips Archive

Tip #1, 11/09- Easing Back Tension With A Tennis Ball

Tip #2, 12/09 - Easing Holiday Tensions With An Epsom Salt Bath

Tip #3, 1/10 - Hot Towel Wrap to Ease Neck Strain

Tip #4, 2/10 - Stretches for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Tip #5, 3/10 - Relieving and Preventing Springtime Neck Strain

Tip #6, 4/10 - Hello Core Strength, Goodbye Lower Back Pain

Current Self Care Tip


"Bret has a magic, gentle, yet firm touch that is at the same time very relaxing and highly therapeutic. I have trouble with tension in my shoulders and lower back, and I always feel that my aches are gone after a session with him."

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