Straight leg raise
Purpose: This exercise improves knee and hip strength to improve proper patellar motion. A great exercise for people who struggle with general knee pain, runners knee or general weakness of the VMO.
Instructions: Brace your core (pelvic tilt), straighten your leg by contracting your quadriceps, lift the leg roughly to the height of your opposite knee, return to neutral and relax.
Common Errors: Not pelvic tilting prior to lifting - after all, these muscles are connected to your core. It is also important to relax between each repetition so that you have a full contraction.
Purpose: This is a great exercise for strengthening the groin muscles.
Instructions: Begin this strengthening exercise lying on your back with a rolled towel or ball between your knees. Slowly squeeze the ball between your knees tightening your inner thigh muscles. Hold for 5 seconds and repeat 10 times as hard as possible and comfortable pain free.
Common Errors: Make sure to keep your low back against the floor.
Pelvic Tilt and Bridge
Purpose: This is the best exercise for low back injuries. It is the precursor to nearly every exercise you will do on a regular basis. Some people refer to it as core stabilizing, bracing, or engaging their core. The bridge is a pelvic tilt followed by a contraction of the glutes and hamstrings to lift the hips off the ground until a straight line is achieved from your shoulders to your knees.
Instructions: Lay flat on your back with knees bent, posteriorly tilt (try to roll your hips backwards). Bring your ribs down by tightening your abdominals then breathe out. If done correctly you will feel your abdominals tighten and your low back press down against the floor.
Just note that although it seems like a simple exercise a lot of people have difficulty with it and the only way to improve is to continuously practice it.
Common Errors: There is an arch in the back when you are tilting - indicative of weak (and improving!) lower abdominals, or tight restricting hip flexors. In the bridge, the knees buckle together - indicative of weak hip stabilizers. To correct this issue, try doing them with a light band around the knees and gently push outwards against the band.
Ball and standing squat
Purpose: A function exercise for engaging the glutes, hamstrings and quads and to avoid excess stress on the low back or knees.
Instructions: Stand against the ball with your feet slightly our in front of you. Bend at the hips and knees to 90 degrees without leaning forward and without allowing your knees to go past your ankle/foot.
Common Errors: Knees buckling in, knees moving past toes - indicative of weak hip stabilizers. Bending too far forward - indicative of a weak core.
Purpose: Core stabilization, reinforcing pelvic tilt.
Instructions: Lay on your back with your knees in a table top position, press your low back into the ground and brace your core. While in the table top position press one hand against the opposite knee and at the same time extend the other arm and leg. Keep your toes pointed up and stretch the leg and arm out into space. Repeat on the opposite side, and increase the level of difficulty by placing a medicine ball between your hand and knee.
Common Errors: Losing the low back connection with the ground by letting your back arch. Indicative of weak lower abdominals and poor control.
Purpose: This is a core stabilization as well as a balance exercise.
Instruction: On your hands and knees, extend one arm and the opposite leg making sure not to loose your core engagement or arch your spine. The height of your leg is not important as long as you can maintain good core stability.
Common Errors: Twisting at the trunk or arching your back indicative of poor core control, and weakness of the abdominals, obliques, and glutes.
Cat - Cow
Purpose: In a quadruped position tightening the abdominals, and attempt to bring your hips to your head while rounding the back up similar to a cat.
Instruction: Mobilize the thoracic spine, while contracting the abdominals. Helps improve range of motion in the back and strengthen the core.
Common Errors: Not contracting the abdominals or leaving the head up, thus not rounding the back.
"Y, T, A" with Band
Purpose: This is a great shoulder and upper back rehabilitation exercise. It can be used with bands at home or with a cable column at the gym. It is excellent for improving, re-balancing, and strengthening postural muscles.
Instructions: While standing with your core engaged (pelvic tilt), squeeze shoulder blades together while maintaining arms extended. Slowly extend arms up and back (Y), straight back (T), and back and down (A). These movements are to be done in a very controlled fashion and only engaging back muscles, while trying to relax neck and chest muscles.
Common Errors: Shrugging your shoulders or excessively bending your elbows are indicative of weak postural muscles, weak shoulders, and or tight chest muscles.
Purpose: To stretch the back of the leg, which, if tight, can contribute to back, hip, knee, and ankle pain, and increase the risk of injury playing sports.
Common Errors: In the 3 way stretch, keeping your knee bent, or not squaring your hips - usually indicates poor form or the height of the chair is too high for you. Try your foot on a lower surface until you can do this stretch with good form. In the lax ball stretch, careful to not perform this took quickly.
Shoulder External Rotation
Purpose: To work the rhomboids and external muscles of the rotator cuff and to aid in scapular stability.
Instructions: Stand with a rolled up towel under your affected arm, set your shoulder, and hold a theraband with your arm across your body. Rotate your arm to about 90 degrees straight in front of you - keeping your shoulder stable. Return to the start. Do 3 sets of 10, giving yourself a rest between each set.
Common Errors: Not setting your shoulder first so it rounds forward. Prepare first! The towel helps reinforce keeping your elbow tucked against your body, and will fall if your elbow comes away.
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Shelton Sports and Spine | Shelton, CT Chiropractor | Dr. Jason Queiros | Sports Chiropractic