According to the New York Times Play Magazine, November 2007, "Most athletes will have back trouble sooner or later". In 2007 the British Journal of Sports Medicine published the results of a study of the top adolescent tennis players in Britain and found 85% had serious spinal abnormalities. Other studies show:
90% of injuries to professional golfers involve the lower back and neck, and almost 80% of professionals will miss at least one tournament because of back pain.
Incidence of bak problems in other sports:
Football 33%
Gymnastics 33%
Rowing 25%
Diving 40%

Current thinking is you must build up your 29 core muscles (area from the knees to the nipples) not just abdominals.

Old Philosophy
  • Sit-ups - excessive compression of spine
  • Posterior pelvic tilt - increases risk of injury
  • Flattening the lumbar region
New Philosophy

  • Muscle endurance vs muscle strength
  • Maintain a neutral spine
  • Flossing - active range of motion
  • No distinction between - upper and lower abs
The big three
- Curl-ups for rectus abdominis:
- Several variations of the side bridge for the obliques, transverse obdominis, and quadratus:
- Leg and Arm Extensions leading to progressions of the bird dog: for many back extensors

Advanced Exerrcises
- Back Bridge
- Cat Arch or Camel
- Side Leg Raise
Can do with one or both legs
- Swiss Ball Exercises
  • Curl-up
  • Extension
  • Bird Dog
  • Back/Shoulder Extension
 
 
Routine
Static exercises should be held for 7-8 seconds,with 3- 4 seconds rest.
                      Mad Cat
                      Curl-ups
                      Side Bridge
                      Front Bridge
                      Extensions
 5 - 6 cycles
 5 - 25 reps
 3 - 8 reps
 3 - 8 reps
 3 - 8 reps
 
Source: Core Training at Hennepin County, MN


Stretching:

Single Knee Pull: to stretch lower back and back of leg. Lie on back, hands at sides. Pull one leg to chest, grasp with both arms and hold for five counts. Repeat with opposite leg. Suggested repetitions: 3 - 5.

Double Knee Pull: to stretch lower back and buttocks. Lie on back, hands at sides. Pull legs to chest, lock arms around legs, pull buttocks slightly off ground. Hold for 10 to 15 counts. Suggested repetitions: 3 - 5.

Seated Pike Stretch: to stretch lower back and hamstrings. Sit on floor, with legs forward, knees together. Exhale and stretch forward, slowly sliding hands down to ankles. Stretch only as far as is comfortable and use your hands for support. Hold for 5 to 8 counts. Don't bounce, position inhaling deeply. repetitions: 3-4.

See: President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports for more.


Twist Exercises:
Yoga Sitting Spinal Twist (Matsyendrasana)

Supine Spinal Twist (Supta Matsyendrasana)
 
See Spinal Twist at westvalley.edu for instructions.
Other Stretch Excercises at http://www.westvalley.edu/stretch/

Your body's core is the area around your trunk and pelvis. When you have good core stability, the muscles in your pelvis, lower back, hips and abdomen work in harmony. Strong core muscles make it easier to do most physical activities - from swinging a golf club to getting a glass off a top shelf or bending down to tie your shoes. Weak core muscles leave you susceptible to poor posture, lower back pain and muscle injuries.
Source: Mayo Clinic

Yoga for Back Pain - Back Pain Relief with Yoga
Yoga for Back Pain - Heal Back and Neck Pain with Yoga
Yoga for Back Problems
Proper Lifting Techniques

Links:
Core Training at Hennepin County, MN
Exercises for a Healthy Back at Canada's National Occupational Health & Safety Resource
The Mayo Clinic: Core Exercises | Back Pain | Core exercises: Beyond your average abs routine
Abdominal and Core Strength and Endurance Exercise List at sportsmedicine.about.com
Exercises to prevent back pain at orthop.washington.edu
Train Your Abs the Right Way!
WebMD
Strengthen your core at about.com
Stretching:
President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports
Core Strength at AthleticAdvisor.com

last updated 2 Nov 2007