Lower back pain is a common problem for a lot of us, especially as we get older. Combating that lower back pain with exercise is a powerful way to get functionality back and make life a lot easier.
The Side-Lying Clam is a physical therapy exercise that was developed to help individuals who struggle with lower back pain to strengthen and stretch the muscles of the lower back, giving them a higher quality of life.
Don’t Clam Up
This exercise targets the lower back muscles, hip flexors, groin, glutes, and hamstrings. It’s excellent for people who need to address stiffness or pain in those areas in a gentle way that works.
Doing the Side-Lying Clam is simple, but as always, proper form is essential in order to get maximum benefits. Here are the steps for doing the Side-Lying Clam.
- Lie on your side with the arm that’s under the body bent underneath the head and neck for support. The free hand should lie on the top of the hip that’s in the air to provide support during the exercise.
- Adjust the body so that the midsection is in line from the chest to the knees.
- Knees are bent to forty-five degrees with the feet together.
- Hold the midsection and feet still while pulling the knees apart as wide as they can go.
- Pull the knees back to the starting position, and maintain control as you do.
- Repeat several times before rolling over and doing the series again on the other side.
A quick note – don’t let the pelvis roll back during this exercise. That movement will put additional strain on the lower back.
Beyond the Pain
While this exercise is incredibly simple, it’s also a wonderful way to work the back muscles. More importantly, it works the supporting muscles that are critical to healing back pain.
No part of the body exists in isolation. It’s all connected, particularly when you’re talking about the posterior chain, which runs from the back all the way down through the legs. When one of the muscles in this group isn’t working properly, the others can come in to compensate. That only works if they are exercised and can truly do the work.
Because this exercise works many muscles at and below the back, it is used to help individuals with back pain, hip pain, and even knee pain. Again, everything is connected!
Taking it Further
This exercise is great for athletes, who work hard on their bodies but who also can struggle with injuries. The glutes do the hard work of stabilizing the legs, which are integral to sporting activities. Athletes use this exercise to build those muscles in a sympathetic way, helping not only to heal after injuries but also to prevent them.
Exercise bands are a common addition to this exercise. They’re helpful because the Side-Lying Clam targets those important glutes so well without compromising other muscles. By adding an exercise band, the resistance can be increased to improve the muscle tone along the way.
Whether you’re working to heal from a lower back, knee, or hip pain, or simply want to prevent it, the Side-Lying Clam is a fantastic exercise to support the lower body.