Back pain sucks, there is no getting around it. I have been dealing with chronic back pain most of my adult life. But, there is hope. By doing some simple and effective core strengthening exercises back pain relief is within your grasp.
In this post, I would like to outline some of the exercises I do to help build and maintain a strong core to manage my back pain. Building up the muscles that support the spine is super essential to sustaining a healthy back.
These are exercises you can perform several times per week. Not only will this help to develop your core muscles, but you can do these in the comfort of your own home.
I have learned a lot in the past few years about ways to effectively workout to help manage my back problems. Exercise is one of the best things you can do if you have back pain, especially low back pain.
Back pain can be completely debilitating, or just simply annoying. In late 2015 I suffered a pretty severe back injury, of the debilitating variety. I was doing this at the gym that a guy with a history of back pain should not be doing.
Long story short, I ended up with yet another herniated disc and a sprained pelvis (SI joint). I ended up with spinal stenosis and was bent over at about a 30-degree angle for months. I was a mess and worked with my chiropractor for about 6 months to get myself back upright.
I finally learned the value of working out my core, and now this is something I focus on daily. I don’t perform these specific exercises every single day, I mix it up, but these are some good ones.
There are two things we have to get out of the way
- First, you need to check with your doctor before you start exercising. This is absolutely critical if you are dealing with back pain.
- Second, if anything hurts, stop doing it.
There is no “fix all” for back pain. These exercises work for me, and they are pretty gentle, but that may not be the same for everyone.
So, let’s get started!
Okay, this exercise looks really easy, but it took me a little while to figure it out and not fall flat on my face while doing it. The Bird Dog exercise goes by many names, but I prefer Bird Dog because that is what this looks like.
You start out on all fours, in the tabletop position, on your exercise mat, or carpeted surface. I don’t recommend doing these on a hard floor without an exercise mat, as it can be hard on the knees. I may or may not know this from experience LOL.
One thing I can’t stress enough is to make sure you have proper form with this exercise and all exercises for that matter. You don’t want to let your low back sag, because that kind of defeats the purpose. So you want to keep your back straight while you perform this move.
From the all fours position, you can look in front of you, keep your head up. The steps are to:
- Extend one arm straight out in front keeping it about parallel with your back.
- At the same time, you will extend the opposite leg straight behind you, again about the same height as your back.
This may take some time to get your balance right. Hold for about 5-10 seconds for starters, to get the feel of it. You can alternate arms and opposite legs as many times as you want.
Typically I hold each rep for about 20 seconds and then move to the other side. I will do this for about 3-5 minutes depending on how I feel. You can start with a lot less time if you want. Do what works for you.
This one is pretty new to me, and you have to be careful. There was a time when I couldn’t do this because it didn’t feel right, but now I love it.
This is great for your hamstrings and your butt, which are two key core muscle groups. Once upon a time, I didn’t realize how critical the glutes and hamstrings are to a healthy core and back.
So lay on your back, with your feet flat on the floor and knees bent. Try to get your heels as close to your butt as possible for this exercise. Ideally, your fingertips can touch your heels. I am not quite there yet, but getting closer.
Raise your butt off the ground and squeeze. You should feel this in your butt and hamstrings, and I really feel it in my inner thighs. This is a good exercise so long as your body will let you move that way.
I do 5 sets of 20 reps, just up and down. That is kind of a lot, and it took me a while to build up to that. Do whatever you can do and work your way up. No judging here!
I have a love/hate relationship with planks, I love it when I am done, but I hate getting them done. Using proper form is super vital with planks. You really want to make sure you are engaging your butt, hamstrings, and abs.
Start face down on the floor, propped up on your elbow and your toes. You want to make sure you back is straight and focus on not letting your lower back sag. Again, it is imperative to have proper form. You want to try to keep this rigid position.
Typically when I do planks, I just squeeze everything together, butt, abs, hamstrings, and I really feel this once again in my inner thighs.
When I was recovering from my pelvis and disc issue a few years back, I was not able to hold this with a straight back, lower back, into my butt. I had to raise my butt up a bit which took some pressure off my pelvis, and that is okay. Some people say that is bad form, but I was able to progress from there and now maintain a flat low back and butt.
I do 45 seconds on, 30 seconds off and I do this 5 times. It ends up being 5 minutes 45 seconds. I am working my way up to 1 minute holds with 30-second breaks, which will put me at 7 minutes. I do this several times per week. It’s BORING, but essential for me.
You may not be able to do this much, start out slow, get a feel for it, and when you are comfortable, you can gradually increase your time. I could barely hold a plank for 20-30 seconds when I started, let alone do 5 rounds of this.
Some people can do a lot more than I can, but this works for me.
Check out the Stealth Core Trainer for a fun and interactive way to plank.
So, that’s what I do a few times per week, in addition to other core strengthening exercises, to help keep my back happy and healthy.
Do I still experience back pain? As someone who deals with chronic back pain, the short answer is yes. But I manage my back problems the best I can with exercise and occasional visits to my chiropractor. I have learned the value of working out and doing it so that I don’t hurt myself again.
Thank you so much for stopping by today, I hope this post has been helpful. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them in the space below, and I will do my best to get back to you as soon as possible.