Back injuries are one of the most common day-to-day injuries and unfortunately they can also be one of the most debilitating issues as well. Whether you are suffering from a chronic lower back injury that can be as minor as a sore or stiff feeling in that area, or you are recovering from an acute injury that has had you immobile for weeks and in excruciating pain, the only way to get completely better is through diligent rehabilitation of the affected area.
Though this routine may not be appropriate for everyone, it is a great way to help progressively strengthen weak lower back muscles. With that said DO NOT do this routine before talking with your doctor/physical therapist to see if these exercises are appropriate for you, your specific type of injury and the stage you are in with your recovery. Fitness Blender is not a team of doctors or physical therapists, and you should always consult with your health care physician before starting any physical activity, particularly when you have existing lumbar problems.
Once you get the “ok” to do this routine it needs to be done in a very specific way to make sure you are not going to re-injure your back. Depending on the severity of your back injury and the stage of recovery you are currently in, the progression of this routine will change. Below is a basic rundown of how to use this routine based off of how severe your injury is, with 10 being severely injured/almost immobile and 1 being only a mild annoyance.
Injury Severity (10-7)
This is not the time to try to strengthen your back muscles. You only want to warm them up and stretch them with as little compression as possible to increase blood flow, which improves healing time. You need to stick to only the Level 1 exercises. Also, only do the first version of the Pilates Swimmers. If you are at an Injury Severity of an 8 or 7 then you may be able to do the second version of the Pilates Swimmers but be sure not to push it. Start with doing the Level 1 exercise once through, then just repeat this level as you can, building up to three times a day and up to three sets of level 1 each time.
Injury Severity (6-4)
This is still not time to try and strengthen those muscles as they are still vulnerable to reinjury, but we do want to improve upon the endurance that was built up from the level one exercises. By this point you should be able to complete all of the Level 1 exercises, including the last level of the Pilates Swimmers. Tack on the Level 2 exercises but start slow and only do one round of the first two levels the first time you attempt this to be sure your back can handle the extra spine compression.
Injury Severity (3-1)
At this point you may still feel some residual soreness and/or tightness in your lower back but your range of motion and mobility should be back to normal. Go ahead and add the Level 3 exercises as well but do them without any extra weight the first time through. Once you get the form down and know that your back can handle it, start adding weight to the Level 3 exercises slowly by holding a dumbbell or some other weighted object as is shown in the video.
Though this routine is not really intended to be a high calorie burner it does of course burn calories. You can expect to burn an average of 3-4 calories per minute for the Level 1 exercises, and 5-8 calories per minute for the Level 2 and 3 exercises.