Many adults suffer from back pain; it is one of the top reasons for doctor visits. Having strong back and abdominal muscles can help relieve many types of back pain, especially those most commonly resulting from soft tissue injury or back muscle strain. Exercises that strengthen these core muscles should be included as a part of a balanced exercise program.
The vertebrae of the spine provide the supporting framework for the back. Connected to this frame is a complex system of muscles and ligaments that create the strength and stability of the spine and extremities. Your abdominal muscles and back muscles work to keep the body upright and for movement (think of maintaining good posture). If these core muscles are not strong enough to hold you upright, additional stress is applied to the spine as it supports the body, and the likelihood of back injury or pain is increased.
We put together some basic core exercises for keeping your back healthy! Get your doctor’s ‘okay’ before trying any of these moves and pay attention to how you feel when doing them.
- Hamstring Stretch- lying on your back with the legs straight, use a stretching strap to pull the one leg up in the air so that you feel a stretch in the back of the leg
- Knees to Chest- lying on your back and pulling the knees to the chest opens up the disc space in the back, which relieves pressure on the nerves.
- Plank/Modified Plank- lay on your stomach, bringing your forearms flat with elbows directly under the shoulders. Engage your core and lift yourself up from your arms and feet, holding this position. To modify, lift from the knees.
- Reverse Crunch- lie on your back with bent knees and core tightened. Keep your knees bent but lift your feet, keeping the hips down, then return feet to the ground.
- Bridges- starting on your back with the knees bent and feet flat, press your heels down and lift your hips up from the ground. As you lift, be sure to squeeze your glutes, then bring your hips back down.