Lower Back On Track 

It's time to debunk a couple of myths about preventing lower back injury. Myth
#1: that strong back and abdominal muscles alone protect the back. Myth #2:
that mobility and flexibility of the lumbar region are guaranteed to prevent
episodes of back pain. Yes, strength and flexibility are generally recommended
- but back health isn't quite so simple. Sometimes, traditional exercises that
focus solely on developing the back muscles can cause more harm than good.

Having a healthy, pain-free back requires aerobic fitness, as well as healthy
muscles in the "core" region of the spine and abdomen. These muscles are
responsible for stabilizing the spine. Fairly recent research on the
biomechanics of the back suggests that spinal stability, through muscle
endurance, is critical to a healthy back.

The way to achieve and maintain a stable spine is to exercise the back extensor
and abdominal muscles in a special way that spares the back. Exercises designed
for spinal stability, as detailed on the OSH Answers website, focus on keeping
the spine properly aligned with no additional load. Ideally, these exercises
should be tailored to the individual, however those listed here are generally
safe for anyone wanting to improve the stability of their spine.

Recommended exercises include the "Cat-Camel," as a warm-up; the "Bird-dog" for
the back extensors; the "Curl-Up" for the abdominal muscles; and the "Side
Bridge" for the lateral and oblique muscles of the abdominal and lumbar regions.

You'll find step-by-step instructions, with photos showing how to perform each
exercise, at the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety's OSH
Answers website.

For best results, do these exercises every day for at least 15 to 30 minutes
(when you're just getting out of bed is not a good time to exercise). Do not
force any movements. Ignore the old "no pain, no gain" principle - remember,
you're trying to spare your back. You can complement your back exercises with
gentle cardiovascular activity, such as walking, cycling or swimming. If you
want to increase the intensity of your exercises, increase the number of
repetitions rather than using additional weights.

Your lower back is a complex structure of vertebrae, disks, spinal cord, and
nerves, and should be treated with care. Add this set of exercises to your
fitness regimen. If you are patient and stick with it, you'll soon start to
feel the benefits of a healthier lower back on your quality of life.

More info

AplusA-online.de - Source: Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety