Author: Jess Abercrombie
From hours of sitting during a work day, to carrying heavy loads on a regular basis, to improper training of natural body mechanics, our society is facing an increase in occurrences of chronic low-back pain! While some people can identify a key action or injury that contributed to their condition, there are many who are unaware of the ways in which the have been moving (or not moving!) that has slowly brought this issue into their lives.
When you are training or talking about the muscles of the body, discussion of the core often conjure up an image of strong, six-pack abs. However, the core consists of all of the muscles in the mid-section of your body, including your lower-back. The muscles of the lower-back engage in order to provide support for your spine, and sitting with poor posture for hours at a time can weaken them.
Experiencing pain and discomfort in the body can often be a sign of injury, which could be an indication that your body needs rest and that you consult a doctor. However, chronic low-back pain can come in waves, and can sometimes be addressed with proper strength and flexibility training! By retraining your core and back, and improving your posture, you may be able to decrease the intensity and frequency of your pain, if not stop it altogether.
Here are a few exercises and stretches that are useful when combating low-back pain:
1. Plank / Side Pank
- Builds core strength and endurance.
- Starting on the hands and knees with a neutral spine will help to build strength, and as you see that you are able to hold the position longer, you can begin attempting a full extension of the legs.
- Make sure back is not arched and hips are not sinking, time how long you can stay in this position without losing proper form, and begin to add on time as you feel more comfortable.
- Side planks to help build strength and endurance in the obliques, and can begin with one knee on the ground for support.
2. Bird Dog
- Starting on hands and knees with neutral spine, raise right arm and extend left leg back. (You may begin with toe on the floor, eventually raising the foot behind you when you feel you have the strength and control).
- Keep pelvis and hips aligned with torso, and hold for 10 seconds, increasing as you become comfortable.
- Repeat this exercise with opposite arm and leg.
- Start on hands and knees with a neutral spine.
- As you inhale, lift head while arching pelvis while stomach presses toward the ground.
- As you exhale, bring chin towards chest and round the back, pulling the stomach in.
- Repeat slowly, feeling the full range of motion.
4. Hip Bridge
- Start lying flat on your back with a neutral spine (make sure tailbone is not arched or forced flat), arms by your side, knees bent, feet flat on the floor.
- Engage core muscles and lift your hips toward the ceiling, engaging your glutes at the top. Keep arms and shoulders pressed firmly against the floor.
- Hold here, and lower slowly, with control.
5. Back Extension
- Begin lying face-down on a mat, legs straight, and arms extended overhead, pinkies touching the floor.
- Engage your core muscles, and slowly lift your arms and torso from the floor, keeping toes intact with the floor.
- Hold here and breath, slowly lower with control.