Thoracolumbar fascia is the connective tissue located on your lower back. Your thoracolumbar fascia acts as a bridge between your glutes and your lats muscles. This helps transfer forces safely from your lower body to your upper body. The fascia also helps stabilize your spine and assists your erector spinae muscles. Performing exercises that strengthen your thoracolumbar fascia will improve your overall core strength, which can help safeguard against lower back injuries.
To perform the big dog exercise, place your knees and hands flat on the floor. Position your hands shoulder-width apart and your knees hip-width apart. Keep your back flat and parallel to the floor. Extend your right arm form and simultaneously lift and extend the left leg off the ground so both are parallel to the floor and in-line with your back. Hold this position for 30 seconds. Your thoracolumbar fascia will have to support the position of your raised arm and leg while maintaining balance on two limbs. Repeat the exercise with your left arm and right leg to ensure your training of the muscles is even. Keep your neck in line with your spine to maintain your balance and avoid injury to the cervical vertebrae.
The plank exercise targets your thoracolumbar fascia and transverse abdominus muscles. These two muscles work in tandem to support your body during the bridged portion of your lift. Start with your forearms on the ground and extend your legs back so that your toes are on the ground but your heels are in the air. Maneuver your body so that you form a direct line from your legs to your upper back. This position will cause your transverse abdominus and thoracolumbar muscles to contract to support your body weight. Keep the position held 30 seconds or longer.
The superman exercise derives its name from your body position while performing the maneuver. Get into a prone position, with your chest and stomach flat on the floor. Your arms and legs should be on the floor and extend away from your body. Now lift your arms, chest and thighs off of the floor six inches. You can imagine this as a superhero "flying" position. Keep this position held for 30 seconds and then relax.
For inexperienced exercises, the bird dog exercise should be the move of choice. The bird dog is the least intense exercise and does not put as much strain on the lower back as the plank and superman exercises. More experienced lifters can add motion to these three exercises to increase the amount of stabilization required and train the muscles during active motion. This is done by shortening the hold position to 1 to 2 seconds and continually getting into and out of these posses.
- "NSCA's Essentials of Personal Training"; Roger Earle and Thomas Baechle; 2003
- "ACSM's Resources for the Personal Trainer"; American College of Sports Medicine; 2007
- "NASM Essentials of Personal Fitness Training"; National Academy of Sports Medicine; April 2007
- American Council on Exercise: Bird-dog
- 2Athletes.com: Abdominal Plank
- TopEndSports.com: Superman Exercise Description