Low back pain affects up to 80% of adults at some point during their life. Exercise can be used to help alleviate and cure the pain by making improving our core strength, however, not all core exercises were created equal. The crunch is often a common solution people arrive at to gain strength through their midsection. Unfortunately the crunch can be ineffective or even exacerbate your problem.
The core was meant to resist motion, not produce it. That also means the core was meant to be trained resisting motion! This brings us to neutral spine exercises. Flexing and extending the spine under load puts a lot of pressure against your discs and can produce shear forces that compromise your spine’s integrity. These exercises don’t put your back into the difficult ranges of motion that can cause aggravation . If you’ve been feeling back pain or want to prevent it from occurring, try throwing these moves into your core workouts.
The Pallof Press exercise involves pressing a cable or resistance band away from you while keeping the handle at the center of your chest. The goal of the exercise is to keep your arms in line with the center of your body and resist turning in towards the direction of the weight. This makes the Pallof Press an anti-rotation exercise. As you move the weight further from the mid-line of your body, the exercise becomes increasingly difficult. Holding the exercise when the arms are at full extension will force you to brace your core! Be sure to switch sides to get the same effect on both sides of your core.
The Plank & Plank Variations
The plank is an exercise that works through the front of your core to resist extension. Keeping your body in line is the key to ensuring your back stays in a neutral position while you work to hold yourself up against gravity. There are many variations of this move as well to target different muscles! If you’re working on your plank already, try mixing up your routine with side planks and BOSU planks!
The Suitcase Carry
The suitcase carry is performed simply by holding a kettle bell (or any weight) in one arm while you keep your torso upright. This exercise works each side of your core by having you resist flexing to the side of the weight. This exercise is the ultimate trunk stability workout. As you walk with the weight your midsection is simultaneously bracing and coordinating to stay stabilized. Find an appropriate weight that challenges your posture and get walking!
By Dave Albaranes