My Go to Exercise for Strengthening the Spine
In this lesson, we are going to focus on an exercise that has helped shape thousands of spines back into strength in all 3 planes of movement without putting an undue load through the spine in a vertical position.
The exercise is called the “Supine Lateral Ball Roll (SLBR)”. Let’s break down what that means:
Supine – facing up
Lateral – moving side to side
Ball Roll – making the ball roll during the exercise.
The SLBR is a big bang exercise, something that does a lot of things in one go. If you are someone who suffers lower back pain, knee pain, or even ankle pain, there could be a multitude of issues going on. Lets take a look at one issue and how this exercise can help.
In the picture above, you will see the muscles of the spine. There are quite a lot. Taking a look at the muscles of the spine
Interspinales: Important for proprioception
Intertransversari: Attatch at the transverse process of each vertebra – c1-7 t1-12 L 1-5 and they attach directly to the spinous process above. Responsible for lateral flexion of the spine and proprioception
Rotatores: Highly proprioceptive, intrinsic muscles responsible for transverse plane movement
Multifidus: Generally crosses 3 segments (spinous process), true stabilizers of the lumbar spine, very important postural muscle.
There are obviously a few more, but lets not explode your head in one go. The moral of the story is that there are A LOT of muscles of the spine that need to be worked in order to incorporate and rehabilitate spinal strength, flexibility, and mobility.
- Grab a swiss ball. Make sure it is pumped up and will support you.
- Grab a dowel rod, preferably longer than your wingspan.
- Sitting on the swiss ball, roll down so that your back, neck and head are all ‘supported’ on the ball.
- Push your hips up so they are level. You can use 2 dowel rods to assist with this, one on your hips and the other on your chest.
- Place the dowel across your chest, hold your arms out straight and push your hips up. This is going to be difficult for a lot of you.
- Without moving your feet, push your body to the left a little. You will notice that your left side will roll off the ball slightly, and gravity will affect your arm and you will need to compensate for that pull. This is what we want.
- Hold on that side for 5 seconds, then roll to the center, then over to the right. Hold for 5 seconds.
The video explains the essential parts in relation to the dowel rod, so take notice. Your goal is to do this exercise for 3 min. Holding each side for 5 seconds. When you get up to 3 min, increase the hold time to 10 seconds. I personally get my clients up to holding for 30 seconds on each side.
You will strengthen the pelvis in a horizontal position as well, forcing the stabilizing muscles through the pelvis to work in concert with the spinal muscles. As you move from side to side off the ball, your arm will be affected by gravity on both sides. This places torsion (turning) on your spine. You will be forced to activate the smaller rotating muscles of the spine to keep yourself horizontal.
The S.L.B.R is a great exercise to help people who have had slipped disks, disk injuries etc to strength and load the spinal muscles horizontally, which will take any compression issue out of the equation. As you strength your spine you will hopefully notice less and less pain in your vertical position, be it from walking around, getting in and out of chairs, etc. This is one of the best exercises you can do to get your spine back into shape.