The 5 Best Exercises for Back Pain

As you all know, I've been struggling with back issues for 6 years now but most recently a flare since January this year. As a result of this, I've had to adjust my workouts quite significantly and focus more on gentle core strengthening stuff. Lots of abs and glutes, as they help take some of the pressure of the back. These dont require any fancy equipment and you can do them from anywhere. They're also also gentle enough for basically anyone (please always consult your doctor though). All of these are also heavily used in physical therapy, so you know they're really good for you!


1. GLUTE BRIDGES

This is my favorite exercise of all time! You can do it with or without exercise bands. My favorite rep schemes are either:

a. 10 x 10 second holds. Bridge up, hold for 10 seconds at the top, slowly lower down. Repeat 10 times.

b. 3x 15 with a resistance band around your thights. Bridge up, making sure your knees are not caving in, hold at the top for 1-2 seonds, slowly lower down. Repeat 15 times, rest, and complete the set 2 more times.

c. As you get stronger, or if you're not injured, try putting a 10lb weight on your lower belly/pelvis and do these... Use a band as well and be prepared to feel your glutes really go to work! #feeltheburn


How to do it:

- Lie on your back with your hands at your sides, knees bent, and feet flat on floor hip-width apart.

- Squeeze your glutes and abs and push through your heels to lift your hips a few inches off the floor until your body forms a straight line from your shoulders to your knees.

- Hold this position for a second, making sure your knees stay straight and don't collapse in.

- Slowly lower your hips to return to the starting position.



Glute Bridge

2. CLAMS

This one works your gluteus medius and minimus, also known as your... well, side butt..? The glutes are a large muscle group that consist of three muscles: the glute max, glute med, and glute mini. Its important to work all three for a balanced and well rounded tusch. I like using a band for this one but you can also do longer holds instead. You'll feel a pretty serious burn here as these are smaller muscles working, and they get tired quicker than bigger ones.


How to do it:

- Lie on your side with your legs bent at roughly 45 degrees.

- Squeezing from the side of your butt, lift your knee towards the ceiling (keep the feet together).

- Slowly lower down and repeat. Do 15-20 reps on each side, then switch sides.



Starting Position

Lift your knee but keep feet together, squeeze from side of your butt


3. TRANSVERSE ABDOMINIS ACTIVATION

This one I do almost everyday. The Transverse Abdominis is the most inner layer of your abs and helps support your spine. It doesnt always get the attention it deserves as its not a "vanity muscle" meaning you cant really see it. But its one of the most (if not the most) important muscle for preventing back pain. This exercise is very simple but can take a while to get used to and to connect with the muscle.


How to do it:

- Lie on the floor with your knees bent, feet on the floor

- Press your lower back into the floor and do a Kegel (pretend you have to pee but you're holding it, thats the muscle)

- Hold for up to 10 seconds, then relax completely

- Repeat 10 times



Transversus Abdominis Activation


4. DEAD BUG

This exercise works the transverse abdominis (the deepest muscle), rectus abdominis (the 6-pack), and hip flexors, and creates an overall strong core while being gentle enough for most people.

How to do it:

- Lie face up with your arms extended toward the ceiling and your legs in a tabletop position (knees bent 90 degrees and stacked over your hips). This is your starting position

- Slowly extend your right leg out straight, while simultaneously lowering your left arm overhead. Keep both a few inches from the ground or however far you can go without lifting your lower back off the floor (very important, dont go too far). Squeeze your butt and keep your core engaged the entire time, lower back pressed into the floor - VERY important!

- Bring your arm and leg back to the starting position. Repeat on the other side, extending your left leg and your right arm



Dead Bug


5. BIRD DOG

This exercise works your core and also your para-spinal muscles that run on each side of your spine. This one is also great for balance and stability!


How to do it:

- Start on your hands and knees in tabletop position with your wrists stacked under your shoulders and your knees stacked under your hips. This is the starting position.

- Extend your right arm forward and left leg back, maintaining a flat back and keeping your hips in line with the floor. Think about driving your foot toward the wall behind you.

- Squeeze your abs and return your arm and leg to starting position.

- Do 15 reps on each side



Bird Dog (dont ask me where that name comes from)

These are my absolute favorite core exercises and they help me even when my back is at its worst. Let me know if you try them and what you think!


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