First off the good old disclosure….I am not a doctor, physical therapists or medical professional by any means so please do not take my advice as professional medical advice. All I am is a paddler that has learned the hard way that not keeping your body’s core strength up could land you in the doctor’s office or in my case the operating room. Back in November 2011 I had to have Lumbar Spinal Surgery for to herniated discs…L4-L5-S1. Surgery was a success for the most part and the discs are no longer herniated. The downside is I still have shooting pain down my right leg and probably always will, although what has helped quite a bit are epidural injections along with Physical Therapy.
There are many ways to build your core strength up…swimming, yoga, floor exercises, Pilates; the list can go on and on. What has worked for me has been a combination of several approaches. I vary my weekly routine to gain the full advantage of all approaches….
Swimming- Freestyle or Breast Stroke- Personally I think swimming by far is the over-all best exercise for your lower back. Zero impact, no resistance except the water and a great cardio vascular workout. Besides that annoying person at the gym can’t really talk to you or bother you if you are in the water.
Yoga- basic exercises, not the advanced ones. Yoga is new to me although I can see why so many people love it.
Weight training- low weight high reps and I stay away completely from any abdominal machines as these can put more stress on your lower back. My weight training has been all machine based for the stability. The hardest part of weight training is keeping the weight low and the reps high. I find myself always wanting to increase the weight thinking this is too easy and lower the reps to build muscle however that is not the current goal. The advantage to using machines instead of free weights is the extra stability the machines provide. Free weights are great don’t get wrong however if you are recovering from any type of back injury the extra stability machines provide could be the difference between re-building or re-injuring yourself.
Elliptical machines- another great low to no impact cardio machine, keep you back straight and tighten you abdominal muscles.
Floor exercises at home- these are exercises that were given to me by my Physical Therapists designed for strengthen my lower back.
The key to any of these exercises is to go SLOW….don’t rush it. Focus on the movement you are creating, not the speed in which you preform it. It is not a race.
Fellow team member John McConville posted a great article in March titled “Spring is Here” and there is a great video he posted about core exercises you can do at home with an exercise ball. I have incorporated this exercise into my weekly routine and it has helped a ton. I have re-posted the video link below, it is worth watching.
So now that my doctor has re-released me to paddle again I can’t wait to try the Karma. After watching the walk through video that EJ posted and the fact that the Karma provides a softer landing than other boats in its class I can’t wait to paddle it, nor can my back. I plan to post my thoughts and how it feels on the back so stay tuned….
Paddle Happy, Paddle Healthy….See you on the river.
Core Exercise Video from John McConville’s post
Core Strength Exercises at home
EJ’s Karma Walk Through Video