Many are looking for the perfect exercise for back pain to promote balance, strength and flexibility. A number of exercises should be incorporated into your routine that encourage a strong core and stable pelvis to support your back.
The lunge is an important exercise for pelvic stability. Its benefits are threefold:
- It strengthens muscles of the thigh, buttocks and hips;
- It encourages integrated activation of those muscles;
- It promotes the correction of common muscle imbalances.
Muscle imbalance is a leading cause of back pain in the general population. Our daily activity – or inactivity – promotes imbalanced muscle groups. When we sit, for example, our gluteal muscles are compressed and weakened while our hip flexors are shortened. This creates an imbalance that pulls downward on the front of the pelvis causing it to tilt forward. Anterior pelvic tilt is a common postural dysfunction in the modern population due to long durations of sitting throughout the day. The problem is exacerbated by the fact that hamstrings are often weaker than quadriceps, which means that the downward pull on the front of the pelvis is increased.
Another common imbalance takes place between the inner and outer thigh muscles. The inner thigh muscles, called hip adductors, are needed to promote core, knee and pelvic stability, yet are not exercised thoroughly by regular daily activities which tend to favor the outer thighs. Also, many gym thigh workouts favor the outer thighs. This imbalance can cause gait problems, knee injuries, pelvic misalignment and back pain.
The lunge aims to strengthen all of the muscles in the thigh, butt and hips equally. What is more, this exercise retrains the body to move more efficiently. When performing a lunge, the muscles involved are being activated together. When you have a muscle imbalance, muscle memory causes the brain to continually fire the stronger muscle and neglect the weaker one. By activating the neglected muscles with the stronger ones, the lunge helps to break this bad habit.
To see proper lunge form and a number of variations on the exercise, refer to exercise.about.com.
The lunge is an excellent exercise for most people seeking to improve posture, strengthen their lower bodies and relieve back pain. Educate yourself on proper form and precautions to keep your workout pain-free.