Low back pain is one of the most commonly treated conditions by physical therapists and chiropractors. Because of sedentary lifestyles, back and neck pain is more common than ever. Being in a seated position does not activate your core, and people don’t put in the work to strengthen their core. Not only does that contribute to weak balance and limited mobility, but it also reduces overall strength.
Maintaining a strong core can allow for pain-free movement and everyday functional movements. A strong core may also improve posture, aid stability, and make you less prone to back pain. Most exercises or movements engage core muscles, so strengthening them can help you perform those exercises with the right form. Plus, having a strong core makes you less prone to injury doing all sorts of movements, from reaching to grab something on a high shelf or swinging a baseball bat. The following workout aims to keep your core strong, and you don’t need a gym to do them!
According to research, planking activates more of the abdominal muscles than most ab or core exercises do. Most people plank incorrectly, though, and you can read more about plank mistakes by clicking here. To begin, get on all fours in a tabletop position, stacking your shoulders over your wrists and hips over your knees. Lower down to your elbows to place your forearms on the floor and step your feet back, maintaining a straight line from your head to your heels. Don’t let your hips sag and remain in this position for 30-45 seconds. Rest for one minute and complete two more rounds.
A lot of people do crunches, V-ups, or leg lifts to target their abs, but you also need to exercise the oblique muscles to maintain a strong core. Lie on your right side, stacking your left leg on top of your right. Place your elbow and forearm on the ground under your shoulder so that it is perpendicular to your body. Prop yourself up on your elbow and lift your hips off the ground by engaging your right oblique. You should still engage your entire core, though. Hold for 30 seconds and then repeat on the other side. Complete a total of three times per side.
This is a great at-home exercise that targets your back, but, and core muscles. It is necessary for functional strength, and helps to tone your booty as well. Lie flat on your back and bend your knees, planting your feet flat on the floor about six inches from your butt. Keep your arms by your sides, palms facing down. Engage your glutes and lower back muscles to lift your hips toward the ceiling, so that only your shoulders, head, arms, and feet remain grounded. Make sure to drop your shoulders away from your ears. Hold for one or two seconds at the top and then lower back down slowly. Complete three sets of 10 reps.
Some people think of 1980s workout videos when they think of this exercise. Should you want to don the spandex and headband, please do so. Just make sure to do this exercise in a controlled way so that you don’t injure your hips or back. Lie flat on your right side and support your head with your right arm. Alternatively, you can rest on your elbow if that is more comfortable. Start with your left leg on top of your right and then lift your left leg up towards the ceiling. Ideally, bring your leg as high as you can, but don’t cause a spasm if it is too painful. Complete three sets of 10 reps on each leg.
This exercise is all about core strength and stability. Many people find this exercise surprisingly difficult, so don’t approach it with the mentality that it will be a breeze. You should feel a few droplets of sweat by the time you finish the reps. To begin, get on all fours in a tabletop position, stacking your shoulders over your wrists and hips over your knees. Keep your back straight and slowly extend your right arm out in front of you, while simultaneously extending your left leg behind you. Maintain a straight line from right finger tip to left foot, holding this position for a second before alternating to the other side. Continue alternative until you complete 10 reps per side, completing a total of three sets of 20.