Ergonomic Articles

Lower Back pain? Strengthen your core with 5 easy exercises!

By Jana Zuidema (Bsc Physio) | Added 2015-07-27

One of the best ways to counteract and prevent the pain and strain that comes from inactivity, is exercise. And with 85% of people experiencing lower back pain at least once in their lifetime, being preventative can save you a lot of pain and discomfort.

Research tells us that exercise is one of the best ways to discourage and treat lower back pain caused from poor ergonomics.  And strengthening the core is vital. It is proven that Pilates is able to reduce unresolved lower back pain (3) and the research states that Pilates is often more effective than any other short term (1) activity.

These five exercises are designed to strengthen your core and drastically reduce pain in your lower back: The first two are warm-ups or ‘setting’ exercises, while the remaining three work on the glutes and deep core muscles as well as balance. But remember, It is always important to keep your back stabilized.

 

Do these five exercises to strengthen your core and glutes and help you stay more comfortable during the day:

1: Pelvic Tilts

To help strengthen your pelvic floor and transversus ab muscles, this abdominal setting stretch with pelvic tilts, is a great exercise. This exercise is called the “setting” in Pilates. Here is how:


1: Put your feet flat on the floor or carpet and lay on your back with your knees bent.
2: Next, engage your pelvic floor muscles by pulling them up. This should in turn work your transverse abdominal muscles, as your stomach draws down towards your spine.
3: Breath in and out normally as you work these deep core muscles. Do this five times, holding for 10 seconds each time.
4: Adding a pelvic tilt to this “setting” by flattening and releasing your lower back ten times will allow you to continue to work your deep core muscles.

2: Bridges:

Bridge is a popular Pilates, yoga and core strengthening exercise and works a multitude of muscles, including the glutes.  Once you are on your back, with your knees bent and feet flat, follow these easy instructions:


1: Use exercise one to “set” your muscles.
2: Now, tighten your glutes and tilt your pelvis until your lower back is resting on the ground.
3: Lift your hips off the floor, raising them towards the ceiling
4: To avoid hamstring cramp, move your feet closer to your buttocks if necessary.
5: Do this ten times


3: The Hip Twist

1: Do exercise one to set your muscles and stay on the floor with your knees bent and keeping a small arch in your back.
2: Make sure your pelvis is level and your back is in a neutral position, let one leg fall slowly out to the side. Remember to keep your lower abs tight
3: Keeping your pelvis still, move the leg back to its original position.
4: Do this five times with each leg.

4: The Clam
1: Keeping your knees bent at an angle of 150 degrees, lay down on your side. Make sure your head, glutes, back and head are in line as if it were against a wall or backing.
2: Now, by lengthening at the waist, create a hollow space under the waist resting on the floor. This gap, the size of a small orange, will help to keep you in neutral spine.
3: Lifting your top knee towards the ceiling, tighten your glutes and make sure your ankles stay together. You should be feeling the stretch in your buttocks, not your hip so keep your pelvis tucked if necessary.
4: Do this ten times on each side.


5: The Superman
 Position yourself on all-fours, keeping your knees, hips, shoulders and hands in line.
Keeping your shoulders relaxed and away from your ears, pull your ab muscles towards your spine as you ensure your head is level, chin is tucked and back is straight.
First, lift your right arm up and then your left leg, keeping your body as straight as possible without arching your back.
Alternate arms and legs until you have completed this exercise five times on each side.

There you have it! Five easy core strength exercises to add to your daily activities and prevent back pain. Always ask the advice of your doctor or other healthcare professional before beginning a new exercise program!


References

1. The effectiveness of pilates exercise in people with chronic low back pain: a systematic review. Wells etal, PLoS One. 2014 Jul 1;9(7):e100402.
2. Inefficient Muscular Stabilization of the Lumbar Spine Associated With Low Back Pain: A 

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