McGill Big 3 exercises are 3 exercises to help get rid of your lower back pain. They do this by helping to increase core strength and stability. Today we are going over the first exercise which is the modified curl up.
The modified curl up is not like a normal curl up or sit up. A normal sit up or abdominal work up focuses on flexing the spine to contract the abdominal muscles. To get the best understanding on how to do this work out it is best to watch the video above to see how to perform it. If you would rather here are instructions on how to perform it.
1. Lay on your back with one leg bent with the foot on the ground and the other leg is straight. If you are having leg pain or other symptoms (numbness, tingling, or weakness) bend the leg with the symptoms. If you are only having lower back pain alternate the bent leg per set.
2. Put your hands under your lower back (lumbar spine). It is important to maintain lordosis (natural curve of the lower back) while doing this exercise we don't want to flatten out your lower back as that can cause unwanted stress on the back. When putting the hands under your lumbar spine make sure you aren't arching your back too much but that you are in a good position that is comfortable for you and your back.
3. In this position you are ready to start the exercise. Keeping your hands under your lower back bring your elbows off the ground. Now to do the exercise bring your neck and shoulders off the ground slightly. You are going to hold this position for 8-10 seconds. The goal is to make sure you don't flex the lower back but keep it stable while doing the exercise. After 8-10 seconds you can go back to the ground and start the next repetition. Some common mistakes is bringing too much of your lower back off the ground flexing the spine. It is critical to make sure your spine is not flexing forward when doing this exercise. This will help you get the most benefit out of this exercise along with avoiding pain.
4. When doing the modified curl up exercise it is a good idea to do them in sets. Dr McGill suggests starting with 5 repetitions with each repetition being holding for 8-10 seconds and going back down. Once you have done the first set rest for 20 seconds. For the next set do 3 repetitions and then rest for 20 seconds. The last set do 1 repetition and then rest.
Now assess how you are doing after this. If you were able to do it without pain but it was challenging continue with the same number of repetitions. If it was done easy raise each repetition per set by 1. Instead of 5, 3, 1 do 6, 4, 2. Now if it was painful doing it you need to check your form. Try resting for a while and doing it again later.
This is a great exercise to use when you are suffering from any type of lower back pain whether it debilitating or just an annoyance it will help you. If you have a sprain or a strain, disc bulge, sciatica pain, arthritis, spinal stenosis, or muscle pain in the lower back this exercise will help you. This exercise along with the other McGill Big 3 exercises have the best evidence of helping people get rid of their lower back pain and getting back to normal activity.
For more questions about what to do for lower back pain whatever the cause is ask one of our chiropractors or acupuncturist. They have years of experience in treating lower back pain, neck pain, shoulder pain, or any other type of pain you are experiencing. They will help you feel better.