Have you ever wondered why people lay on their stomach and prop up on their elbows as an exercise for their back? The position is known as Prone Lumbar Extension. Having an understanding what that exercise does insures you will use it properly and have maximal benefit!
Extension exercises are widely used by chiropractors and therapists for the treatment of back problems with associated radiating nerve pain.
The most basic extension position is to lay on your stomach, very relaxed, propped with your elbows under your chest. Imagine a kid laying on the floor watching TV! When in that position, your lower back makes a nice, inward curve. That curve causes the vertebrae to arrange properly in relation to the entire lower back. They also press together in the rear and spread apart in the front. This puts a little pressure on the “putty like“ center of the disks that live in between the vertebrae.
That pressure pushes the disk material toward your stomach instead of back toward the spinal cord. The result is to take pressure off of the nerves exiting your spine. The patient can do this exercise several times per day for short intervals. After a while, the radiating pain into your legs and buttock will begin to improve.
When you couple prone extension with chiropractic adjustments the results can be amazing. In my office, I recommend adjustments 1-2 times per week coupled with Prone Lumbar Extension exercises 6-10 times per day for 1-1.5 minutes each time. Duration of treatment is determined on a case by case basis, but the ultimate goal is always to get you back on your feet quickly!
Certain people don’t do as well as others with extension. People with lumbar facet syndrome, pars fractures and copious lumbar degenerative change may need another type of exercise.
Anyone who gets worse with an exercise trial or has any concern or question why they should not do an exercise, should avoid it until they consult their doctor!