Muscle conditioning is an essential part of staying healthy and fit. Physical therapy exercises incorporate a combination of strengthening, stretching, and aerobic conditioning are a central component of almost any treatment plan.
When you engage in a regular program of gentle exercises, you can recover more quickly from pain and are less likely to have future episodes of pain. Muscle conditioning exercises usually focus on three key areas: strengthening, stretching, and aerobic conditioning. Below are a few examples of muscle conditioning exercise you will experience at Step Ahead Physical Therapy in Cambridge and Marblehead.
Many exercises can help strengthen the spinal column and the supporting muscles, ligaments, and tendons. Most of these back exercises focus not only on the lower back, but also the abdominal (stomach) muscles and gluteus (buttock) and hip muscles. Strong core muscles can provide pain relief because they support the spine, keeping it in alignment and facilitating movements that extend or twist the spine with less chance of injury or damage.
Stretching is usually recommended to alleviate pain. Stretches are designed to target muscles that cause pain when they are tight and inflexible. Hamstring stretching is almost always an important part of an exercise program. Most people do not stretch these muscles, which extend from the pelvis to the knee in the back of the thigh, in their daily activities.
Another stretch that is often helpful in easing sciatica is the Bird Dog move: After getting on their hands and knees, individuals extend one arm and the opposite leg. The arm and leg extensions are then alternated. A more advanced version of this exercise is the Plank Bird Dog move, in which the extensions are done once the person is in the plank position on their hands and toes.
Low-impact aerobic exercise
Some form of low-impact cardiovascular exercise, such as walking, swimming, or pool therapy is usually a component of recovery, as aerobic activity encourages the exchange of fluids and nutrients to help create a better healing environment. Aerobic conditioning also has the unique benefit of releasing endorphins, the body’s natural pain killers, which helps reduce sciatic pain.
These types of muscle conditioning exercises may be done separately or in combination. If you are in Cambridge and Marblehead suffering from pain and need treatment, contact Step Ahead Physical Therapy to schedule an appointment and return to a pain-free, active lifestyle.