Essential to chiropractic health and well being is therapeutic exercise. The purpose of these therapeutic exercises is to strengthen the muscles to aid in the alignment. Dr. Cahn understands that the long road to health includes many different aspects. We have put together several exercises below used to gain the proper strength needed to support the spine.
ABDOMINAL HOLLOWING or BRACING
While lying on your back bend your knees and put your feet on the floor. Focus on your lower abdominals and draw your belly button in. Do not hold your breath. Hold this position for a count of 10 and then relax. Repeat 6-8 times then continue on to the next therapeutic exercise.
KNEE TO CHEST
Beginning from the sit-up position. Start the movement by using both hands to bring one knee to your chest while the other leg continues to stay stagnate. Hold this position for 10 seconds, then slowly release your knee to the rest position. Do about 4 to 5 repetitions, then switch to the other leg. Finally, do this same motion but with both legs at the same time. Healthy stretching will be felt in your back and glutes.
Hip rolls are conducted by laying flat on your back and extending your arms out to the side. Bend both knees and raise your feet off the ground at the same time. Rotate your hips to the side as to bring your legs parallel to the floor. Rotate in this side to side motion for 5 to 10 repetitions. Hip rolls are another exercise that is effective in strengthening the abdominal muscles in the core.
LOW BACK EXTENSION
Start this exercise by laying down flat on your stomach with your hands to your side. By using the muscles in your lower back, elevate your head and upper body off the ground. Stay in this position for 4 to 5 seconds then lower yourself back to the rest position. Repeat this movement 10 to 15 times.
This exercise is performed by getting down on all fours. While keeping your back straight, place your hands directly beneath your shoulders and with your knees directly below your hips. Gently using your abdominal muscles arch your back towards the ceiling, similar to a cat. This should automatically place your head down to the floor. Next, lower your back so that your lower backdrops and extends. This should lift your head when doing this motion. Make sure that your elbows remain straight during the entire therapeutic exercise, your spine should be the only place of movement. Repeat the cat-camel 12 to 15 times.
To get the most performance out of this exercise it is best to use a stability ball. It begins by laying on the stability ball with your stomach and with your hands behind your head, start to tighten your abdominal muscles. Use the lower part of your back muscles by contracting your glutes to raise your chest and shoulders off the stability ball.
The superman exercise is performed by lying face down on the ground with your arms extended out above your head. While tightening your abdominal muscles begin to raise both your arms and legs at the same time. This position should look like you are in a flying position thus giving this exercise the name the superman. Hold this position for around 30 seconds and then slowly release yourself to a rest position. Though it may be tempting to hold your breath, do not do it! Hold your position and focus on controlled steady breathing.
DOUBLE LEG LIFTS
Utilizing a stability ball, lay yourself face down and place the hands on the floor out in front of the ball. At the same time lift the legs off the floor until your body is in a horizontal position. Hold there for 10 seconds then lower your legs back down to the floor and repeat this therapeutic exercise 5 to 10 times.
Sit down in a chair and with one arm reach across the stomach area and grab the opposite side of the chair. Make sure to look over the shoulder while rotating your torso. This exercise is great for the lower and middle back. Try this for 15 to 30 seconds.
EXTERNAL SHOULDER ROTATIONLie on the right side of your body with your right arm folded under the head. Keep your upper left arm parallel with your torso by bending at the elbow so that the forearm is lying directly across the stomach and keep your hand on the floor. Through shoulder rotation, lift the forearm until it runs perpendicular to your side. After performing this movement on one side, rotate and repeat it on the other side of your body. External shoulder rotations can also be performed using a dumbbell.
INTERNAL SHOULDER ROTATION
Just like the External Shoulder Rotation, you will need to lay on your right side first. However, this time keep your right hand free. With your right arm next to your body bend the elbow and rotate your shoulder to move the forearm. Internal shoulder rotations begin by laying flat on the floor, and then rotating into your body so that your forearm is flat across the stomach area. Do this motion for 10 to 15 times and if you prefer you may use a dumbbell.
LATERAL DELTOID RAISE
Begin with placing both your arms at your side. Face your palms toward the thighs. Position the feet shoulder-width apart. While tightening the abdominal muscles, slightly bend the knees. Extend both arms out to the side until they run parallel with the shoulders. Briefly hold this position then slowly retract your arms back down to your sides.
FRONT DELTOID RAISE
Begin by placing your arms out in front of your body with your palms facing your thighs. Slightly tighten the abdominal muscles by slowly bending the knees. Position the feet shoulder-width apart and raise your arms straight out in front of your body until they are plum with the shoulders. Hold this position for a brief moment then slowly lower your arms.
SINGLE-ARM LAT PULLDOWN
Start by holding a resistance band over your head with both hands. Engage the abdominals by slightly bending your knees forward. Make sure to keep your feet positioned shoulder-width apart. Begin pulling the resistance band downward with one arm, adducting at the shoulder while simultaneously moving the upper arm is next to the torso. Ease up on the resistance band and slowly return to the position you started from. Make sure to keep your arms slightly in front of the face and it will protect the shoulders and back as you perform this therapeutic exercise.
STABILITY BALL PUSH-UPS
Begin by placing the ball directly under your stomach. With your hands placed on the floor in front of you, slowly roll yourself forward until only your shins are balanced on the stability ball. Once in this position, bend at the elbows just like you would in performing a normal push up.
SIDE LUMBAR BRIDGE
While lying on one side of your body with your legs out straight, hold up the upper body by keeping your elbow plum with the shoulder. Be cautious to not let your top hip rotate forward. Using your core muscles, use the torso to lift the hips. Hold the side lumbar bridge for 10 to 15 seconds. Make sure to maintain a neutral and straight back and neck position.
SINGLE-LEG REVERSE CURL
Take the position of lying down on your back, flex one knee while keeping the foot flat on the floor. Keep the other leg straight but slightly elevate the leg off the ground. The arms should be extended flat along the body and should run plum with the neutral alignment of the spine. Then raise the flexed knee and leg in an upward and diagonal direction to the belly button. Give a brief pause, then lower the leg slowly to the starting position. Repeat this motion with the other leg.
CRUNCH W/ STABILITY BALL
Using a stability ball, lay down with your back on it and place the hands behind the head or fold them across the chest. Maintain a backward-pelvic tilt. Lift the shoulders blades off the ball. Then return back to the beginning position and repeat the therapeutic exercise.
Facing a wall hold a stability ball at forehead height. Push with forehead into the stability ball by using your neck muscles. Relax and then repeat the movement.
Holding the stability ball behind your head, stand facing the wall. Push the back of your head into the ball.
While standing sideways to the wall, hold the stability ball to the side of your head just above the shoulder. Press the side of the head laterally into the ball.
Bending the neck, brings the ear to the shoulder. Hold that position up to 5 to 7 seconds. Forcing your ear toward your shoulder, you should feel the stretch of your muscles on the opposite side of your neck.
Using the same principles as the prior exercise, bring the head as to look at the ceiling. This movement should cause you to feel the stretch on the front of your neck muscles.
Using the muscles in the neck rotate the head back and forth from right to left. Then gently nod the head down. You will feel a stretch coming from the opposite side of where you are looking. Hold this position for a few seconds and then repeat.
If any of these exercises cause you to feel dizzy, loss of balance or even fainting, Immediately stop the therapeutic exercise and contact your physician.
NECK EXERCISES FOR STRENGTH
Place a hand on your forehead and press your head against your hand with force. Make sure your hand is applying ample force to ensure the right amount of resistance. Try this in several sets of 6 then 8 or even 10 repetitions.
Start by placing both your hands on the back of the neck. Utilizing your neck muscles, force your head back while at the same time providing resistance from your hands.
Do the therapeutic exercise in several sets of 6 then 8 then 10. Its best to do them several times daily and you will be able to see the increased flexibility that builds or returns after only a couple of months.