Proper Lifting Techniques

  • Always bend the knees and get into a squatting position to lift anything.
  • Secure the item you are lifting by placing it close to your body.
  • Lift straight up, pushing with your legs, while keeping your back straight.
  • Don’t bend over from the waist to pick up anything. Even repetitive bending and lifting of very small items can cause a disk to become weak.
  • Never bend over and twist your waist at the same time. This motion puts up to 200% more stress on your lower back area.

Proper Work Posture

  • Sitting:
    Most important is the chair you sit in. It should be height adjustable at the very least. Your feet should be flat on the floor, not dangling and not crossed. It would be best to have a full back support as well. When working at a computer or desk job, don’t slouch in your chair. Always sit up tall with your back fully against the back supports.
  • Typing\Computer use:
    You should always have the key board and monitor directly in front of you. It is also very important that you are not looking down at your computer screen. A good idea is to set your monitor on a monitor stand to raise it to eye level or slightly higher.
  • Using a back support belt at work
    Recent studies have shown that the use of back belts does not reduce the number of work related low back injuries; although they should not be disregarded all together. They can have a positive result when used properly. They should be worn with shoulder straps, so that the belt can be loosened when you are not doing heavy lifting or repeated bending or twisting. A back support belt can be helpful as a constant reminder to use proper body mechanics all day every day.

The 20 Minute Wellness Workout

This 20 minute workout is designed to target the spine and core muscles supporting the lower back and pelvis. It begins with a short warm-up to increase blood flow in the muscles and ready the joints for more vigorous exercise. Following the warm-up are 7 fundamental Pilates exercises designed to target the core muscles in the stomach and lower back. The workout concludes with a series of slow, easy spinal stretches and a relaxing belly breathing exercise.

As with all exercise, please proceed at your personal comfort level. If you experience pain while you are performing these exercises, stop and consult the doctor. There may be a way to modify a specific exercise to make it more tolerable.

The goal is to fit this into your EVERY DAY lifestyle. This workout can be done any time of the day, in your own home or just about anywhere. Have fun!

Click here for a printable version.

 

Warm Up Exercises

Spine Twist

Starting Position: Sit up tall with your feet straight out in front or you. Pull your stomach in to your spine. Extend your arms directly out to the sides, keeping them even with your shoulders, so that there is one long line from finger tip to finger tip.

Action: Twist from the waist, not from the shoulders. The upper body, including the head, moves as one piece. The pelvis stays stable and does not twist at all. Repeat 3 times.

Forward Bending

Starting Position: Stand straight and tall. Reach high over your head.

Action: Bend forward at the waist toward your toes. Return to first position. Repeat 3 times.

Side Bending

Starting Position: Stand straight and tall with arms overhead.

Action: Lean to one side and then the other. Return to first position. Repeat 3 times.

Shoulder Circles

Starting Position: Sitting or standing with shoulders pulled back and spine tall.

Action: Make small circles with the shoulders backwards five times and forwards five times.

Neck Range of Motion

Starting Position: Sitting or Standing with shoulders pulled back and spine tall.

Action: Bend head forward, backward, side to side, and turning left and right. Hold each position for 5 seconds.

Cat & Camel

Starting Position: On your hands and knees.

Action: First arch your spine up as high as you can while tucking your chin into your chest. Second relax your spine and let your belly drop to the floor. Imagine a string pulling your belly button to the floor. Repeat each position 3 times.

Cross Crawl (Hands to Knees)

Starting Position: Stand with shoulders pulled back and spine tall.

Action: Walk in place raising your knee high and touching it with the opposite hand. Do this for 20-30 seconds.

Spine Tuning Exercises

 

The Hundreds

Starting Position: Lay on your back. Draw your navel towards your spine. Pull your shoulders down your spine. Raise your arms off the floor slightly. Lift your feet off the floor with your knees bent directly above your hips forming two 90-degree angles. Curl your upper body as you gently lift your head off the floor and bring your chin towards your chest.

Action: Follow a breathing pattern of five counts as you breathe in and five counts as you breathe out. Tap the floor with both hands with every count. Try to do each inhale and exhale series 10 times in a row.

One Leg Stretch

Starting Position: Lie flat on the floor with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Curl your body and raise your head off the floor.

Action: Bring one foot off the floor and bring it towards you. Lightly grasp your knee with both hands. Repeat this move with the other leg. Always inhale as you lift your leg and exhale as you lower it.

Advanced Action: Add another component to this exercise by extending the opposite leg away from you as you bring your knee towards you. Keep your toes pointed and stretch the straight leg as far as you can. Control the movement with the abdomen and don’t let your hips twist. Perform 10 times on each side.

The Roll Up

Starting Position: Sit upright with your feet flat on the floor and knees bent. Hold the back of your thighs with your elbows bent out. Slide your shoulder blades down your spine.

Action: Inhale and tilt your pelvis to create a c-shape spine. Keeping your feet flat on the floor, roll down bone by bone, one vertebrae at a time. Rely on your stomach muscles to stabilize the movement. Exhale and contract the stomach muscles to roll back up to the starting position. Perform 10 times.

Advanced Action: Perform the roll up with your arms out in front of you instead of holding onto your thighs.

Side Squeeze

Starting Position: Lie on your side with your knees bent and in line with your hips forming two 90-degree angles. Place your hands on your head, directly opposite each other.

Action: Exhale as you lift your upper body off the floor and inhale as you lower it back to the starting position. Don’t jerk your neck or grip too hard with your hands. Perform 10 times on each side.

Side Twists

Starting Position: Lie on your back with arms extended out at your sides, knees bent, and feet flat on the floor. Lift your bent legs to form a right angle with your torso.

Action: Keeping both legs together and both your shoulders pressing into the floor, exhale as you twist and drop your legs to the left until they’re halfway or nearly touching the floor. Inhale and bring your knees back to center and twist and drop them to the right side without bringing them to the floor. Return to center. Perform 10 times.

Plank

Starting Position: Lie face down on a mat resting on your forearms, palms flat on the floor.

Action: Push off the floor, raising up onto toes and resting on the elbows. Keep your back flat, in a straight line from head to heels. Squeeze your stomach muscles against your spine to prevent your rear end from sticking up in the air. Hold for 20 to 60 seconds.

Swimming

Starting Position: Lie on your stomach. Stretch your arms over your head. Stretch your legs out with your toes pointed. Draw in your stomach muscles towards your spine.

Action: Exhale and lift one leg and the opposite arm off the floor. Raise your head and shoulder with the motion. Remember to lengthen the leg and arm as you raise them. Keep your hip in contact with the floor. Always keep the stomach muscles pulled up to the spine. Repeat this motion with the opposite leg and arm. Inhale as you lower the arm and leg; exhale as you raise them. Perform 10 times on each side.

Post Exercise Stretches

 

Hamstrings (Back of Leg)

Starting Position: Standing or sitting with one leg stretched straight out in front of you and the toe pointed up in the air.

Action: Reach down and try to pull the toe toward you.

Piriformis (Hip & Side of Leg)

Starting Position: Sitting tall with one leg crossed over the other.

Action: Bend forward at the waist as far as comfortable. Try to stretch your chin out as far over your knees as possible.

Psoas (Front of Leg & Groin)

Starting Position: Place one bent knee on a chair/bed/bench. Take a big step forward with the other leg.

Action: Lean forward until you feel a stretch in the front of the leg on the chair. Arch your spine backwards to get more stretch.

Neck & Shoulder Stretch

Starting Position: Sitting on one hand.

Action: Bring other hand over head and gently pull your head away from the hand you are sitting on.

Posture Perfect Stretch

Starting Position: Sitting or standing tall with the chin tucked in so the head is over the shoulders.

Action: Stretch both arms behind back and try to clasp hands together. Allow shoulders to pull back as far as possible.

Action: Bend both arms up by sides, forming “L” shapes. Squeeze shoulder blades back together. Imagine holding a one hundred dollar bill between your shoulder blades.

Belly Breathing (Final Relaxation Exercise)

Starting Position: Sitting tall with both feet flat on the floor and arms in lap and your eyes closed.

Action: Inhale through your nose while concentrating on moving your belly out. Exhale through your mouth while your belly returns to normal position. Do this 7-10 times slowly and deeply.

It may help to place your hands on your abdomen while performing this exercise to help you concentrate on moving your belly.

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