Performing these exercises on a regular basis will help alleviate pain in your lower back (as well as in the feet, ankles, knees and hips). Corrective Exercises for the Feet and Ankles Golf Ball Roll Overpronation leads to wear and tear of the plantar fascia and degeneration of other structures on the underside of the foot. Over time this can lead to immobility of the foot. This self-myofascial massage technique can help regenerate the tissue on the underside of the feet, allowing the structures to be more mobile. Roll a golf ball at least once daily on the underside of each foot for 30 to 60 seconds, concentrating on any sore spots they find.
Calf Massage Musculoskeletal deviations of the feet and ankles can cause tightness and restrictions in the calf muscles. Using a tennis ball to self-massage the calves is a great way to help rejuvenate and restore health to these muscles so the ankle and foot can move more effectively. This exercise can improve foot and ankle function, which will help take stress off the structures of the lower back.Sit back against a wall or couch and place a tennis ball (or harder ball like a baseball if more pressure is needed) under the calf. Raise the ball up slightly by placing it on top of a book to take pressure off the knee, if necessary. Massage each sore spot he or she finds for 20 to 30 seconds and then move the ball to another spot. Do both legs. Calf Stretch on a BOSUThere are many muscles that originate on the lower leg and wrap around the ankle before inserting on the underside of the foot (Gray, 1985). When these muscles are tight they can restrict mobility of the ankle and foot. (Note: Use the “Golf Ball Roll” and “Calf Massage” exercises outlined above to help warm up the muscles before doing this stretch.)Stand in a split stance on top of a BOSU Balance Trainer, with the hands on top of a table or against the wall to assist with balance. Put the majority of your weight into the back foot, straighten the back leg, supinate the foot (i.e., arch raised and foot rolled out) and push downward with the heel. Then gently bend the knee of the leg that is back, pronate the foot (i.e., roll their foot in) and then return to the starting position. As the leg goes from straight to bent, the foot, ankle and knee should roll in toward the midline of the body. Perform this exercise daily for about six to eight repetitions on each side. Corrective Exercises for the Hips Tennis Ball Under the GlutesThe gluteus maximus muscle helps control rotation of the leg and the hip socket (Golding and Golding, 2003). Using a tennis ball to release and rejuvenate this muscle (and the other smaller hip rotators muscles of this area) will enable the leg to rotate more freely in the hip socket.Lie on the floor with the knees bent; place a tennis ball under one side of the glutes. Move around on the tennis ball to find a sore spot, stay there for 10 to 20 seconds as the tension releases, and then move to a new spot. Perform at least once a day for about two to three minutes on each side.
Tennis Ball on Hip FlexorsThe hip flexor muscles originate on the lumbar spine, cross the pelvis and attach to the top of the leg. They also help control rotation of the leg and hip socket. Performing the following massage technique with a tennis ball is an effective way to increase hip mobility.Lie face down and place a tennis ball under the front of the hip/leg and find a sore spot. Maintain pressure on the sore spot for 10 to 20 seconds until the sensation lessens, and then move the ball up and onto the abdominal region, releasing sore spots along the way from the top of the hip to just beside the bellybutton. (Note: Do not place the tennis ball on the sensitive areas just to the side of the pubic bone, where the leg meets the groin.) Perform this exercise once per day for about one to two minutes on each side.
Foam Roller on Side and Front of LegThere are two other important structures on the upper leg that help control rotation of the hip and leg. The iliotibial band connects the gluteal muscles to the lower leg, and the rectus femoris, which is a quadriceps muscle, originates on the pelvis and connects to the kneecap. These structures must be healthy and flexible to enable the hip, knee and lower leg to work correctly.Lie over a foam roller placed perpendicular to the upper leg. Roll your body to the side so the front and outside of the upper leg makes contact with the roller. Roll on any sore spots you find.
Do each leg for approximately one to two minutes every day. (Note: If the pressure of the foam roller is too much for you, you can regress this exercise by placing a tennis ball under the side and front of the leg while you are lying down.)
Restrictions in the muscles that enable the feet, ankles and hips to function correctly directly affect the amount of stress experienced by the lower back. Applying the effective corrective exercise strategies provided, you can perform better and experience substantially less lower-back pain.ReferencesAmerican Chiropractic Association (2013). Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries and Risk Factors Study.American Council on Exercise (2010). ACE Personal Trainer Manual (Fourth Edition). San Diego, Calif.: American Council on Exercise.Golding, L.A. and Golding, S.M. (2003). Fitness Professional’s Guide to Musculoskeletal Anatomy and Human Movement. Monterey, Calif.: Healthy Learning.Gray, H. (1995). Gray’s Anatomy. New York: Barnes and Noble Books. Kendall, F.P. et al. (2005). Muscles Testing and Function with Posture and Pain Researched By : Kátia C. Rowlands – PLETT PILATES ; SPINNING & FITNESS STUDIO – 082 513 4256