Strengthening your core and back are the keys to avoiding debilitating back pain. Build these back strengthening exercises into your daily routine, and you’ll be protecting yourself against muscle spasms and other acute back pain down the road. Think of these exercises as physical therapy, perfect for utilizing a slideboard as your base or for an extra challenge.
This exercise, sometimes called a bridge, works your core, lower back, and glutes. Best of all, it feels great because it reduces pressure. Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet planted shoulder width apart. Put your arms flat on the floor next to you. Position your pelvis and tailbone so that they are tilted down, then tighten your core muscles, and press your lower back into the floor. Keep your shoulders down and lift your pelvis up, keeping your core engaged. Hold for 10 seconds, lower your body back to the floor, and relax. Repeat for five reps or more, depending on your ability.
Planks are by far the most effective way to make your core and lower back stronger. Lie face down, and raise yourself up onto your elbows. Your elbows should be placed directly underneath your shoulders. Tuck your toes into the ground, tighten your core muscles, and raise the rest of your body into an elevated position. To avoid straining your lower back, keep your bottom up as high as your shoulders. Hold your position for 10 seconds, and then lower back down to your starting position. Start with five reps, and build up the time as you become stronger.
Side Plank Hold
This version of a plank is more difficult than a standard plank hold because you’re on your side and working your oblique muscles, as well as your lower back. It also requires some balance. Start in the forward plank position you just learned, and once your body is elevated, slowly rotate onto your right elbow so that you’re facing sideways, with your left foot stacked on top of your right. Keep your core engaged at all times, and don’t let your hips sink down toward the ground. Your body should remain in a diagonal line. Hold this position for 10 seconds before returning to your starting plank position. Repeat two more times, and then switch sides. If you need additional support, cross your top leg over the bottom and let that foot rest on the ground in front of you.
Begin with your knees on the floor directly below your hips and your hands on the floor shoulder width apart. Engage your core muscles, and slowly lift your left arm and extend it straight forward, while at the same time lifting your left leg and extending it straight back with your toes pointed down. Stretch and hold this position for 10 seconds, and return to start. Alternate sides, and repeat three times on each side.