The standing series introduces the first exercises that target the hips and lower back, two common areas of pain particularly in professions where there is a lot of time sitting. This series involves multiple joints moving through a wide range of motion and incorporates simultaneous mobility and stability.
The goal is to perform the exercises smoothly, with good control, and through a good range of movement. Perform these movements wherever and whenever you can allowing you to consistently be working on having a strong functioning spine.
Feet shoulder width apart (may be slightly turned out) with arms out in front, lower buttock down maintaining the weight mostly on your mid to back feet (avoid pushing weight onto your toes) with the aim of getting your buttock below the knees (but just go to where you can), try and track the knees over the big toe, try and work both legs evenly.
Squats activate and involve the feet, ankles, knees, hips, lower and mid back. Studies of the elderly population and quality of life have identified the ability to maintain the squat movement as an indication of higher scores of quality of life. I suspect it is because many household chores and activities require a squatting motion and maintaining activity provides greater freedom and hence enjoyment in life.
Wide Leg Squats
Facing forward have your feet spaced out laterally to a slightly uncomfortable width. With legs straight have straight arms out in front of chest, bend one leg to squat down on that side (shift body to that side) feeling a lengthening on the opposite inside of the straight leg – complete 5 squats each side in a rhythmical action.
This exercise strengthens the glut muscles whilst opening the inside wall of the hip cylinder. Similar to the squat, move smoothly, note if both legs are able to stand evenly, and note if it is comfortable to dip to the same level each side. If not, this will indicate the likelihood of hip dysfunction and, depending on severity, may be something to see your health professional about.
Start by focussing on an object in front of you, bring non-standing leg up to 90°, squeeze the gluteal (buttock) muscles on your standing leg, simultaneously squeeze the abdominal muscles (pull your belly button into your spine), and lift the crown of your head up to the sky – hold 10 seconds.
An easy way to strengthen a key muscle group that provides stability for the lower back. Further, the gluteal muscles and the abdominal muscles switch off whilst sitting making this exercise a great strategy for those who spend long hours in front of a computer or driving wheel. However, you can also do this exercise as you move around during the day ie. as you wait at the grocery store, watch kids play sport, wait for the gas to fill up your car.
Feet hip width apart, pivot at the waist, bend your knees as much as you need to get hold of your big toe, maintaining your toe hold, push your backside to the sky – you should feel the lengthening of your hamstrings – 5 breaths (use the breath to relax in this position). Come out by bending knees and reverse the pivot from your hips. If you find holding the toes (remember with bent knees) you can hold the shins or knees – the important part here is to anchor yourself as you lengthen your posterior muscles (claves, hamstrings, spinal muscles). Hold 10 seconds.