How to Position the MECA Wedge
- Place the MECA Wedge in the small of your back, not under your buttock.
- Allow your buttocks to hang over the MECA Wedge (tailbone reaches towards the ground).
- DO NOT allow your buttocks to touch the floor.
- The MECA Wedge should never create back pain, if you feel discomfort move the MECA Wedge towards your feet no more than 1/2 inch.
- When legs are in tabletop position, knees over hips, calves parallel to floor, you should feel the abdominals working. If not, move the MECA Wedge no more than 1/2 an inch towards your head.
- Keep your pelvis stable and your tailbone pointing towards the floor throughout each repetition (DO NOT posterior pelvic tilt).
- Brace your abdominals and forcefully exhale with exertion to aide in the abdominal contraction.
- Range of motion (ROM) for each upper body lifting exercise is very short, and deliberate, lifting the upper body no more than 2-3 inches off the floor.
- For lower body exercises start with a small, very controlled ROM and increase your ROM gradually over time as you become stronger and have more control.
- Slight repositioning of the MECA Wedge to be sure the MECA Wedge is positioned correctly is encouraged. For upper body lifting exercises you may want to slightly (no more than ½ and inch) move the MECA Wedge towards your head. For lower body lifting exercises you may want to move the MECA Wedge slightly towards your feet (no more than ½ and inch, being sure NOT to place the MECA Wedge beneath your buttocks).
- Bridge (see Bridging) between each exercise and when fatigued.
- A maximum of 20 reps for each exercise is all that is necessary.
- Abdominal work on the MECA Wedge should be challenging.
- If you would like to make lower body leg lifting exercises more challenging be sure to keep the legs when in Table Top away from the chest. The farther the knees are away from the chest the more challenging.
- If you would like to make upper body lifting exercises more challenging , be sure to lift straight up towards the sky and not curl or round forward.
- It takes 10 minutes to unload ligament so the key is to work up to spending 10 -12 minutes on the MECA Wedge daily whether it
be passively (see passively laying the MECA Wedge) or performing abdominal exercises.
- If lying passively on the MECA Wedge, best to do at the end of the day to unload the penalties placed on the back throughout the day.
- If one must perform MECA Wedge work first thing in the morning be sure to wait at least 20 minutes after rising as disks are swollen and spine is unstable after waking.
- Pilates and Yoga based abdominal exercises can be preformed on the MECA Wedge, maximizing your effort and eliminating any penalty to the low back.
- Any abdominal exercise you would perform on the floor, ball or Bosu can be done on the MECA Wedge.
MECA Basic Back Protocol
The MECA Back Protocol is made up of modified yoga poses designed to open the hips without compromising your back and focuses on increasing glute strength. Both of which are imperative for overall back health. Yoga poses are chosen based on the client’s specific needs. Then the patient is placed on the MECA Wedge for the abdominal conditioning segment. This portion is based on the client’s strength and physical limitations. Lastly, the client performs a selection of core stability exercises. These
exercises consist of bridging, planks etc. Below we have included the Basic MECA Back Protocol.
Down Pigeon and Up Pigeon
Start on your hands and knees. Extend left leg behind you, foot on the floor. Move right foot outside and in front of the left knee. Both knees will still be in line with the hips. Slide left leg back as you allow your upper body to lay down. Allow your forehead to rest on the floor, if you are unable to do so stack your fists or rest your forehead on top of your MECA Wedge. You should feel a deep stretch in your right glute (buttock). Relax your neck and shoulders while allowing the right glute to stretch. Hold, relaxing into the stretch and breathing deeply for 1 minute.
From the down position, squeeze the glute of the left (extended) leg, while pushing the extended leg in to the ground. Slide your hands back to your knees and below your shoulders as you use your lower back muscles to lift your upper body as perpendicular to the floor as possible, creating a natural arching of your lower back. As you kick the back leg into the floor and activate the glute of the extended leg focus on feeling a stretch in the hip flexor (front of the hip) and quadriceps muscles (top of the thigh). At the same time you are lifting your head toward the ceiling and rooting your hips. Hold 20 seconds.
Then repeat both Down Pigeon (1 minute) and Up Pigeon (20 seconds) with the left knee bent and the right leg extended.
Passive Lying on The MECA Wedge
Refer to “How to Position the MECA Wedge” for placement. Once you have found the appropriate position (the sweet spot) for the MECA Wedge, be sure you are as relaxed as possible allowing your tailbone to hang over the MECA Wedge and reach towards the floor, allowing your back to extend. Since it takes 10 minutes for ligament to remold the goal is to be on the MECA Wedge, whether it is exercising (see Basic MECA Wedge Exercises) or lying passively for 10-12 minutes. At first, lying on the MECA Wedge may feel awkward and/or uncomfortable. The key is to position the MECA Wedge as comfortably as possible following the guidelines in “How to Position The MECA Wedge” and “Things to Remember”. Once that position (the sweet spot) is found try to lay on the MECA Wedge for 1 minute straight, if possible. If you become uncomfortable before the minute is over or when you have reached 1 minute, bridge. If you can complete 1 minute comfortably, work up to lying on the MECA Wedge for 2 minutes, then bridge. If you feel comfortable with 2 minutes, try 3 minutes and so on. Gradually adding a minute until you can comfortably lie on the MECA Wedge for 10 minutes straight and bridge off the MECA Wedge without any discomfort.
It may take a week or two weeks of daily practice, maybe even more depending on the stiffness of your spine before you can comfortably lie on the MECA Wedge for 10 straight minutes. Take your time and move within your own comfort zone. Think of a child after he/she has first had their braces put on. It takes a slow gradual process of tightening the braces over time before the teeth are aligned appropriately. Be patient, relax and don’t forget to breath.
Note: If lying passively on The MECA Wedge, it’s best to do at the end of the day to help negate the penalties placed on the back throughout the course of the day. If one must perform MECAWedge work first thing in the morning be sure to wait about 15- 20 minutes after rising as disks are swollen and the spine is unstable from lying down throughout the night.
Passive Laying on wedge
Bridging is done between every exercise or if a break is needed from lying on the MECA Wedge. In order to bridge the glutes (buttocks) must first be engaged. Squeeze the glutes while maintaining a stable extended pelvis, keeping the tailbone pointing down (be sure NOT to roll into a Posterior Pelvic Tilt, PPT). Once the glutes are contracted, keeping the pelvis stable lift the hips off the MECA Wedge and hold for 5-10 seconds or more, if desired. It is important that this exercise be done from the glutes and NOT the hamstrings, which may want to take over. If your hamstrings cramp when you bridge, press your heels into the floor at a 45 degree angle away from you and focus on lifting your hips by contracting your glutes and pressing away. Some find it helpful to lift the toes off the floor, so only the heels remain on the floor.
If you find that you are comfortable lying on the MECA Wedge yet feel pain when bridging, chances are you are most likely posterior pelvic tilting when you go to bridge. Many people run a motor pattern where they feel they need to pelvic tilt in order to engage their glutes. This is not necessary. Practice lying on the ground and squeezing your glutes with your hands on your hips and/or in front of a mirror or with a partner being sure your hips stay stable as you engage your glutes (buttocks). Your lower back should not press into the ground as you contract your glutes. Instead, whatever space exists below your lower back when you are lying passively on the ground, should remain when you contract your glutes.
If you feel discomfort when bridging off the MECA Wedge be sure to first activate your glutes maintaining a stable extended pelvis (tailbone reaching towards the ground). Once you have engaged your glutes, cue your lower back to engage by squeezing your lower back and then lift your hips towards the sky maintaining a stable pelvis with the tailbone pointing down.
BASIC MECA WEDGE EXERCISES
Single Knee Raise – from tabletop (Toe Taps)
Start in tabletop position, knees over hips, calves parallel to the floor. Arms may be by your side, overhead or holding onto something behind you to increase stability. Slowly lower your right knee towards the floor maintaining 90-degree position. Please note that the range of motion does not need to be large. Move the knee away enough to engage the abdominal wall focusing on quality over quantity. Pause, feeling the abdominals and then exhale to return to starting position. Move slowly and deliberately. Repeat with left leg, alternating for 10 – 20 repetitions total.
Feet on the floor, with your arms crossed at your chest. Keep the pelvis stable by reaching your tailbone towards the floor. Inhale to prepare, exhale to lift your torso 2-3 inches from the floor, pause, feel the abdominals working and then slowly lower back to the floor with control. Be sure to move with muscle not momentum. If you feel your neck straining, try to relax the neck and shoulders, being sure to work from the abdominals and not pull from the neck. In addition, press the back of your head into the floor after each repetition. Repeat 10- 20 times or 1 minute.
Double Knee Raise
Start in tabletop position, knees over hips, calves parallel to the floor. Arms may be by your side, overhead or holding onto something behind you to increase stability. Knees/legs together. Slowly lower both knees away from you with control, remembering that a large range of motion is not necessary and that quality is more important than quantity. As your strength increases you will be able to increase your range of motion. Once your knees are away even if slightly, to a point at which you can feel your abdominals working, pause, focusing on the abdominal contraction and then exhale using the abdominals to bring the knees back over the hips to tabletop position. Be sure to keep the abdominals engaged throughout the entire exercises making sure the knees do not come in towards the chest but rather stay perpendicular to the floor. Repeat, being sure to move slowly and with control for 10 to 20 repetitions or 1 minute.
Start with your feet on the floor, arms crossed at your chest. Inhale to prepare, exhale to come up to a standard Ab Crunch, only 2-3 inches off the floor. Rotate the upper body to the right (lifting your left shoulder), pause, then return to the center, then rotate left (lifting your right shoulder). Try to keep your upper body off the floor throughout the entire exercise while maintaining stable in your lower body. Rotate right, center then left for 10-20 repetitions or 1 minute.
Reverse Russian Twist
Start in tabletop position with your arms out to the side like a “T” with your palms up (level 1), by your side (level 2 – shown) or in the air (level 3). With the knees together slowly bring your knees to the right and hold, inhale and then without pausing at the center slowly bring your knees to the left. Repeat left to right keeping both hips on the MECA Wedge at all times and be sure to keep the knees over the hips or slightly away to increase the challenge. Repeat 10-20 repetitions total or 1 minute, alternating.