A lateral curvature of the spine to the left or right is called scoliosis, which commonly develops in people who participate in unilateral activities such as tennis. Scoliosis might also develop from birth defects of the spine or when one leg is longer than the other. Incorporating regular stretching and strengthening exercises for the lumbar spine will help reduce the signs and symptoms resulting from scoliosis.
Muscles, bones, joints, ligaments, tendons and nerves will be crunched up on the inner surface or concave side of the curve. Likewise, such structures on the outer surface or the convex side of the curve will be stretched. The lack of symmetry across the two bilateral halves of your body can lead to muscle fatigue, loose ligaments, pinched nerves and muscle spasms. Stretching exercises will loosen the tight tissues on the inside of the curve while strengthening exercises will tone the tissues on the outside of the curve. Gradually hold each stretch for up to 15 minutes on three alternating days per week. Strengthening exercises increase your muscular endurance; do three sets of 15 repetitions on three alternating days per week.
Lying Lumbar Rotation I
The lying lumbar rotation stretch has multiple progressions from a light stretch to a more intense stretch. The exercise is performed by lying on the convex side of your body with a pillow under your head. Bend your hips so the angle of your hip joints are about 135 degrees and your knees are nearly 90 degrees. You should be resting on the shoulder closest to the floor with your opposite shoulder leaning slightly backward, slightly stretching your lumbar spine. Your forearm is across your chest.
Lying Lumbar Rotation II
To do the second level of the stretch, bring the knee of your top leg forward so your hip is at 90 degrees and your knee is bent to less than 90 degrees. Drop your top shoulder back toward the floor with your hand at the lateral edge of your belly, stretching your lumbar spine. If you want to increase the intensity of the stretch, straighten your leg in front of you and drop your top shoulder to the floor behind you.
This stretch must be done on a table so your arm can hang over your head with you lying on the convex side of your spine. Bending your hips and knees slightly in front of your body will keep you balanced on your side. Place a folded towel under the concave area of your spine then drape your top arm over your head. You can increase the stretch by increasing the size of the roll under your lumbar spine.
Strong abdominal and lower back exercises are essential for the entire lumbar area, especially for the concave side of your lumbar spine. Perform oblique crunches by lying on the convex side of your body, keeping your bent knees in front of you. Look up and contract your obliques to draw your hip and ribcage on the concave side toward each other.
Hyperextensions will strengthen the lumbar muscles on the concave side of your spine. Begin this exercise by first lying flat on your stomach. Straighten both arms above you so your limbs are in line with your body. Simultaneously, raise the arm on the convex side of your body and the leg on the concave side of your body, holding the contraction for three seconds.
- “Examination of Musculoskeletal Injuries”; Sandra Shultz, Ph.D., Peggy Houglum, Ph.D., and David Perrin, Ph.D.; 2005
- “Therapeutic Exercise for Musculoskeletal Injuries”; Peggy Houglum, Ph.D.; 2005