Wall slides is a functional exercise to retrain your movement habits so that you are recruiting your lower abdominal muscles to support your spine while walking or standing. You need only do one or two repetitions to correct your spine.
To perform the wall slides exercise, rest your back against the wall until it is flat or less extended by bending your knees, sliding down on the wall, and walking your feet away from the wall. Once your lower spine is flat, your back pain symptoms should be reduced. Exhale while sliding your body up the wall and walking your feet toward the wall. Draw your belly button in toward your spine to prevent your back from arching; again, as your pain should still be diminished or absent as you slide up the wall. Now step away from the wall, maintaining the lower abdominal contraction to stabilize the lumbar spine.
Common errors or mistakes when doing the wall slides exercise include:
- Allowing the back to arch or flex (for people with extension problems or flexion problems, respectively) is not proper form. Make sure you are stabilizing the spine in the correct alignment according to your movement dysfunction.
- Rounding your upper body in order to flatten your back against the wall (in the case of extension problems) is not good form. Instead, allow your knees to bend and slide down until your spine comfortably flattens. Draw your belly button in and slide back up with a tall spine, rather than rounding forward.
- Recruiting your legs instead of your abdominals to help stabilize your back defeats the purpose. It is easy to push your spine into the wall with your legs -- but this robs you of the opportunity to stabilize your spine by using your abdominal muscles, which is key to retraining your movement habits.
- Don't allow too much pelvic movement before stopping. Stop when your spine position changes, and become aware of this shift. Gradually, you will develop the instinct to know when your pelvis is not moving properly and contributing to your back pain.
- Allowing pelvic rotation when lining up on the wall will reinforce your rotation problem. Take the time to set yourself up correctly.
- Allowing a leg to rotate inward while performing the exercise reinforces pelvic rotation and undermines correcting the rotation problem. Take it slow and do it right.
More Answers from Rick Olderman