10 Exercises To Strengthen Your Core and End Lower Back Pain

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End lower back pain for good with these 10 easy core strengthening exercises!

There are many contributors to lower back pain, but it is often a result of your spine not getting sufficient support from the stabilizing muscles.

Lower back pain is a very common issue today. In fact, it’s often estimated that only 20% of the population will go through life without experiencing back pain. 

That means that 80% of all people will have back pain at least once in their lives.

While back pain may affect us all at one point or another, this does not mean that we have to suffer for very long or with devastating symptoms. There are a number of things we can do to bulletproof our backs.

Perhaps the easiest and most effective step we can take toward addressing back pain is to exercise regularly.

Spine Stabilizing Muscles

Your spine is supported by multiple stabilizing muscles in the back and core.

The side abdominal muscles called obliques in the core are connected to the back muscles that support the spine and posture.

Strengthening those muscles is a great way to not only prevent back pain but also ease the nagging aches while toning your midsection.

Here are some of the best exercises that strengthen your abs and core and reduce back pain at the same time.

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10 Best Core Strengthening Exercises for Lower Back Pain

10 Best Core Strengthening Exercises for Lower Back Pain

In this article, we will review 10 of the best exercises that’ll strengthen your core and end lower back pain!

1. Planks

Plank core exercise

Many of the core exercises people use are known as isotonic movements. In short, isotonic exercises are those that take a joint through alternating concentric (muscle shortening) contractions, and eccentric (muscle lengthening) contractions. 

An alternative to isotonic exercise is an isometric exercise. Isometric exercises can be thought of as “holds”. These are movements in which the joint angle doesn’t change, but the force does. The plank is a very effective isometric exercise.

How to Perform

  • Begin by placing your forearms on the ground, with your elbows about shoulder-width apart. 
  • At the same time, place your feet on the ground, roughly hip-width apart.
  • Squeeze your abdominal muscles and hold this position for the duration of the exercise.
  • Perform 4, 30-second planks per session, 2-3 sessions per week.

2. Heel Taps

Heel Taps - core strengthening exercises

While the rectus abdominis (the 6-pack muscle) often gets all the glory, the obliques are the real heroes!

These muscles, found on either side of the trunk, provide stability to the trunk during all functional movements. Heel taps are a great way to safely work the obliques, all while lying on your back.

How to Perform

  • Lie flat on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.
  • Perform a slight crunch, so that your shoulder blades rise off of the ground.
  • Bend at your side, so that you are able to touch your left calf (or heel) with your left hand.
  • Then, repeat the movement on the right side.
  • Continue to alternate between sides for the duration of the exercise.
  • Complete 12-15 reps per set, 2-3 sets per session, and 2-3 sessions per week.

3. Bicycle Crunches

Bicycle Crunches - Core strengthening exercises

Unfortunately, this exercise isn’t quite as easy as riding a bike. However, it is extremely effective for increasing abdominal strength and endurance.

How to Perform

  • Lie flat on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.
  • Place your hands on your temples, not behind your head. This will ensure that you don’t pull on your neck when the exercise gets hard.
  • Kick your right leg straight out as you simultaneously bend your left knee toward your chest.
  • As you do this, twist your trunk to the left, bringing your right elbow toward your left knee.
  • Repeat this pattern on the other side, and alternate in this fashion for the duration of the exercise
  • Complete 12-15 reps per set, 2-3 sets per session, and 2-3 sessions per week.

4. Side Plank Hip Raises

Side Plank Hip Raises

There are many variations on the plank. In this version, the oblique muscles are used to raise the hips in the air.

How to Perform

  • Start with your right forearm on the ground, and the outside of your right foot on the ground, left foot stacked on top of the right.
  • Place your left hand on your left hip.
  • Slowly, raise your right hip off of the ground so that only your right forearm and right foot are touching the ground.
  • Once you’ve risen off the ground in this manner, hold the position briefly, then return to the starting position.
  • Repeat for 10-12 repetitions, 2-3 sets per session, 2-3 times per week.

5. Bridges

Hip bridge core strengthening exercises

A classic yoga move, bridges are a terrific strengthening exercise for the back and glutes. There are many ways to modify this exercise which can make it harder or easier, depending on your needs.

How to Perform

  • Lie down on your back, with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.
  • Push your feet down into the ground, causing your hips and low back to rise in the air. 
  • Hold this position for 3 seconds, then relax back down into the starting position.
  • Repeat the motion 10-12 times per set, 2-3 sets per session, and 2-3 sessions per week.

6. Hollow Holds

Hollow Holds

Hollow holds are another terrific way to work the abdominal muscles isometrically. This exercise can be very challenging at first. But with consistent practice, you’ll be a hollow hold expert in no time!

How to Perform

  • Start in a seated position.
  • Lean back as far as you can without falling over, keeping your trunk straight.
  • Raise your arms above your head, in line with your body.
  • Extend your legs out in front of you, making your body into a “V” shape.
  • Hold this position for 30 seconds, repeating 2-3 times per set, 2-3 times per week.

7. Dead Bugs

Dead Bugs

As silly as the name may sound, dead bugs are not an easy exercise! This movement requires significant levels of coordination and strength, but it will help you get a stronger core in short order.

How to Perform

  • Lie on your back with your legs straight.
  • Reach your arms toward the ceiling and bend both of your knees toward your chest.
  • Slowly, allow your left arm to fall back behind your head as you extend your right leg straight out beneath you.
  • Reverse the motion as you switch to the other side.
  • Perform 10-12 reps per session, 2-3 sets per session, 2-3 times per week.

8. Mountain Climbers

Mountain Climbers

Of the exercises on this list, this is the only one that is plyometric, or explosive, in nature. Mountain climbers are the perfect way to work the core muscles while also burning some serious calories.

How to Perform

  • Start in the top phase of the pushup position, with hands about shoulder-width apart and toes about hip-width apart.
  • Quickly jump your right knee toward your chest.
  • Then, as you jump the right leg back to the starting position, simultaneously jump the left knee toward your chest.
  • Repeat this alternating pattern for the duration of the exercise.
  • Complete 12-15 reps, 2-3 sets, 2-3 times per week.

9. Classic Crunches

Classic Crunches

Crunches have gone through so many iterations over the years, it’s almost hard to remember what the original version looks like! The classic crunch is an easy, effective move for a strong core and a pain-free back.

How to Perform

  • Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.
  • Cross your arms over your chest.
  • Slowly, bend your trunk as you lift your shoulder blades off of the ground.
  • Return to the starting position to complete the rep.
  • Perform 12-15 repetitions, 2-3 sets, 2-3 times per week.

10. In and Outs

In and Outs

In and outs are a great way to strengthen the abdominal region from a seated position. This move can be made harder by not using your arms for support. Try this modification if you’re finding the exercise is too easy for you!

How to Perform

  • Start in a seated position, with your hands behind you, supporting you on the ground.
  • Kick your legs out in front of you, then bring them back in toward your chest.
  • Repeat this alternating motion for the duration of the exercise.
  • Complete 12-15 reps per set, 2-3 sets per session. 2-3 sessions per week.

Conclusion

These ten exercises are a great way to strengthen the core and improve stability in the low back. If you’ve been having back pain, or are worried that you might someday, try out this workout and see what you think!

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