The lower back is an extremely important area in the sport of wakeboarding. It acts as part of the core to stabilize while being pulled from either the boat or cable. It also is often engaged as the center of gravity for flips and spins. The lower back is stocked with layers upon layers of muscles and ligaments for stability and cushioned with discs for shock absorption. The complexity is great, but often times, the small, but important, muscles tend to be underutilized. It is important to keep them all engaged to prevent injury and remain pain free.
Here are a few exercises to strengthen the stabilizing muscles in the lumbar spine:
1. Pelvic Tilts- Begin lying on the ground with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Start pulling your belly button into your spine and drawing it in and up. Hold for a few seconds then release, moving into an arched position. Repeat for 20 repetitions.
2. Bridges- Begin in the same position as pelvic tilts. With your arms at your sides, palms facing down, push your pelvis up, contracting your glutes. Hold for a few seconds and lower back down to starting position. Repeat for 20 repetitions.
3. Cross Crawl- Begin on your hands and knees, with your belly button pulled into your spine and your head in a neutral position. Start lifting right arm and left leg, extending out and elongating. Bring back to starting position and repeat with opposite arm and leg. Continue alternating for 20 reps per side, aiming to have a smooth transition and holding the abdominals tight.
4. Cat-Camel- Begin in the same position as cross crawls. Start by arching your back and sagging your belly (the cat). Hold for a few seconds and transition into pulling your stomach in as high as you can (the camel). Alternate back in forth for 20 repetitions.
5. Side Plank-Start in a push up position, except on the elbows. Move your weight to one elbow and open up to stack feet on one another or beside, depending on proficiency. Raise the free arm into the air or bend and place on hip. Hold for 30-45 seconds. Repeat on opposite side.
6. Supermans- Begin lying on your stomach. Reach arms out overhead. Lift arms and legs a few inches off the ground and hold, while engaging the glutes and lower back muscles. Hold for 30-45 seconds. Repeat 3 times.