I often get asked, “if I only do one exercise for my back pain, what should it be?” My answer is normally Cat Camel. It is not a stretch but a simple mobilisation that will help reduce pain and improve your range of motion.
So when do I give this exercise?
Well, I’ve been back for maternity leave for about a month and a common complaint I have already seen in practice is “I was doing something strenuous during the day and my back was fine but then it started hurting on a basic movement!” This is a good indicator for needing to do more CAT CAMEL. Injuring yourself when you are tired is a sign your bodies proprioception is diminished. Patients with chronic low back pain also have reduced proprioception not only when standing but also in a four-point kneeling position.
So what is proprioception?
Its the awareness of position or movement of the body. It is what allows you to touch your nose with your eyes close. It is what helps you balance on one leg. But most importantly it is your brains awareness of joint position and this helps the brain correct joint movement and prevent injury. It is thought that 40% of spinal control is reliant on feedback from the paraspinal muscle spindles. Current evidence shows that this feedback is altered when we have low back pain.
How can I improve my proprioception in my lower back?
Moving the lumbar spine in the four-point kneeling position may contribute to the muscle spindle feedback system and improve the proprioception of the lumbar spine. Cat Camel encourages coordinated muscle activity in a safe and gentle manner. It can help reduce fear avoidance behaviours, for example, I can’t move because it hurts. You can easily do a smaller motion with this exercise and stay within your comfortable limits.
When shouldn’t I do this exercise?
If it causes pain in your back! If this exercise causes you pain even on a small movement you need to consult your health care provider.
You may have wrist or knee pain when doing this exercise if that is the case place a small pillow under your knees to reduce pressure and try to re-position your hands. If you still have pain discontinue trying this exercise.
You should always see your chiropractor at Hands On Health Care Clinic before beginning any new exercises to check they are right for you.
What if I am struggling to co-ordinate my head with my spine?
Be patient, you are not the only one. Many people have difficultly with this exercise, especially when they have been in pain for a long time. This exercise will really help you get the most out of your chiropractic care.
Shouldn’t my exercises be more challenging?
No! even top-level sportspeople regularly do cat camel to help with proprioceptive awareness and help prevent injuries!!