Reverse Leg Raise

ADVANCED EXERCISES: REVERSE LEG RAISE

This exercise strengthens the lower back muscles. It requires a certain amount of strength and flexibility from your abdominal muscles; for this reason, we recommend that you feel comfortable with the Stomach Crunch before you attempt this manoeuvre.

You should not attempt this exercise until you have mobilised (or decompressed) your lower spine. You will need to use the backrack™ in order to do this. When your back is sufficiently decompressed, you should have little or no back pain, and you should be reasonably flexible.

Do not attempt the exercise until you have used the backrack™ on a regular basis for at least three months.If you are in any doubt as to whether this exercise is appropriate for you, please consult your doctor.The whole movement can be broken down into a series of distinct phases:

  • Preparation
  • Lift
  • Return

 

PREPARATION

You should warm up before attempting this exercise. Decompress your spine by using the backrack™ and then go for a brief walk (10 minutes).Sit on the edge of your bed. Lie down, bringing your knees up towards your chest at the same time: this will prevent strain on your lower back.Roll over, and straighten out your legs so that they hang off the edge of the bed (as shown). If possible, your toes should touch the floor.

After positioning yourself correctly:
reverse leg starting position

  • Place your arms on the bed in front of you, so that your hands touch just in front of your head.
  • Locate and isolate your lower abdominal muscles; draw them up, and in, towards your spine. This will support your back, prior to lifting. Do not tense your neck muscles, or over-arch your lower back. These are common mistakes.
  • Before you lift, take a deep, slow breath; fill your lungs as much as possible (within reason), breathing in through your upper and lower chest.

LIFT

The Reverse Leg Raise can be made as easy (or as difficult) as you wish. This flexibility is useful, as you can vary the exercise according to the strength of your back.

The variants are listed below, progressing from the easiest form of the exercise through to the most difficult

  • Single Leg Raise (Bent)
  • Double Leg Raise (Bent)
  • Single Leg Raise (Straight)
  • Double Leg Raise (Straight)

Please make sure that you are comfortable with each manoeuvre, before trying the next one. Each lift should be followed by a return to the starting position (shown previously)

RETURN

After each lift, return your leg (or legs) to the floor, breathe in slowly keeping your abdominals tensed. Do not tense your neck. You should aim to finish inhaling just as you return to the starting position.

Some people hold the tension by not breathing: this is very bad for you.

Lift 1: Single Leg Raise (Bent)

Please refer to the diagram below:
reverse single bent

  • Lift one of your legs, so that your toes leave the floor.
  • If possible, try to lift your leg to the same height as the bed. Bending your leg (as shown) will help to lower the strain on your back. Do not tense your neck.
  • As you lift, keep your lower abdominals tensed (up and in), and breath out slowly.

Exhale, until you come to the end of your breath: this will help you to keep the tension in your abdominal muscles in a safe and reliable manner.

Lift 2: Double Leg Raise (Bent)

This variant of the single lift is largely self explanatory: lift both of your legs, whilst keeping them bent. Again, keep your lower abdominals tensed (up and in), and continue to breathe throughout the manoeuvre. Do not tense your neck.

Lift 3: Single Leg Raise (Straight)

Please refer to the diagram below:
reverse single straight

Single leg raise – straight

Lift one of your legs, so that your toes leave the floor.
If possible, try to lift your leg to the same height as the bed (as shown). This time, however, keep your leg straight: this will increase the strain on your back. Do not tense your neck.

As you lift, keep your lower abdominals tensed (up and in), and breath out slowly.

Exhale, until you come to the end of your breath: this will help you to keep the tension in your abdominal muscles in a safe and reliable manner.

Lift 4: Double Leg Raise (Straight)

Please refer to the diagram below:

reverse double straight

Double leg raise – straight

This is the hardest form of the exercise. Lift both legs off the floor (as shown), whilst keeping them straight.
Again, keep your lower abdominals tensed (up and in), and continue to breathe throughout the manoeuvre. Do not tense your neck.

ADDITIONAL ADVICE

To start with you should:

Limit the number of repetitions (perhaps to as little as five).
Perform the exercise every other day.

As mentioned above, we recommend that you feel comfortable with the Stomach Crunch before you attempt this manoeuvre.

Both muscle groups (abdominal and back) play an important role in stabilising the spine. However, these groups oppose each other: one sits in front of the spine, and the other behind it. You therefore need to balance your strength by doing both exercises (otherwise, you may experience problems).

If you have had back pain for a reasonable length of time (whether the pain is intermittent, or constant) you will probably have weak (and tight) abdominal and back muscles. You therefore need to decompress your spine before you attempt to strengthen your back; and you need to build up your strength and stamina gradually (as with any other exercise).

If you feel that you have strained your muscles (at any stage) you should stop. This probably means that your lower spine is too stiff, and your muscles are too tight. Continue to use the backrack™ until you feel ready to try this exercise again.

 

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