The Stabilizer Biofeedback cuff is a great device to use to monitor the changes in spinal motion when performing lower abdominal exercises. Too often I see individuals with back pain going way beyond their ability to stabilize their spine when attempting to strengthen their abs. Here is a short video of how the Phase 1 exercise can be done with the feedback unit.
Pretty nifty, right?
The Stabilizer Biofeedback exercises build a solid foundation to work from with regard to abdominal training. It allows a lot of variation, especially if your back pain is bad enough that doing anything other than laying on your back makes you hurt more. In fact, I’ve found that in many cases when someone told me that “any exercise I do causes me pain”, I was able to at bare minimum assign the Stabilizer exercises without any problem.
Stabilizer Cuff Settings
There are a number of different methods for setting up the stabilizer biofeedback tool. In the instruction manual for the tool, they recommend setting the cuff at 40 mmHg of pressure, then performing the exercise while attempting to hold that pressure. There are times when I do recommend this setting, mostly for back pain sufferers that can’t move very much without agitating something.
One problem with this setting, however, is that very often the lower back extensors are facilitated (hyperactive) and the lower abdominals need to be encouraged to work a bit more to counteract this hyperactivity. This can be done by doing a posterior pelvic tilt to increase the pressure in the cuff a bit before starting the exercise. Adding about 20 mmHg usually does the trick.
The other problem I have with the standard setting is the starting pressure of 40 mmHg. This is a problem for many people because of excessive thoracic kyphosis. If the spine is rigid in the lower thoracic/upper lumbar region, the 40 mmHg + 20 mmHg pelvic tilting is going to be difficult to hold without compensating using larger muscles. Therefore, I recommend the starting cuff pressure to be set to 60 mmHg to get around this issue.
So, I recommend STARTING the cuff at 60 mmHg, then performing a posterior pelvic tilt to 80 mmHg, and performing the exercise while holding at 80. Got it?