Have you been suffering from back pain? Did you know that in most cases back pain can be either significantly reduced or stopped all together by strengthening your core? That’s right. Most people don’t know the significance of your core muscles (lower back, abdominals and side abdominals (also known as the obliques) and the role they play in whether you experience back pain. Most people suffer from back pain at some point in time in their life.
Many people have long standing back pain that they suffer from for most of their life. This could involve pain from compression of the vertebrae from walking on hard surfaces like concrete, marble and tile – if you get pain in your back after a day of walking at the mall that is compression derived pain. It could also involve sharp pains from misalignment, pulled muscles or pinched nerves. Some of these problems are more painful than others, especially pinched nerves, but most if not all can be either greatly reduced or even cured by placing an emphasis on exercises that strengthen your core muscles.
First, we have to understand that most people do not strengthen or work on the muscles in their core as much as they do other muscle groups. I can’t tell you how many people I know that are fitness aficionados and yet they only do a few situps here and there and think its enough. you need to do exercises that strengthen your lower back, your front abdominals and your side abdominals or obliques.
Recommended exercises to strengthen your core and get rid of back pain:
1. Superman – This is a great exercise for strengthening your lower back, glutes and even other muscle groups.
To do the superman you lay on the floor on your stomach with your arms stretched out in front of you and your legs straight behind you. Then you raise up off the floor both your arms and your legs and hold for 20 seconds or more. This is a good exercise to repeat three times or so and you’ll feel a burn in the middle and lower parts of your back when done correctly.
2. Bridges – Back bridges are similar in what they do to the superman, but you’ll see they work your back even harder as you really trying to pull your back together to get that perfect bridge. The goal with back bridges is to try and push or squeeze as tight a back bridge as you can and try to get your forehead to touch the floor. This is hard and for some people starting with the superman is easier. You will see a big difference in your back muscles and how this reduces your back pain as you continue to do this exercise. Try to hold it right at that raises you can for as long as possible. 20 to 30 seconds is good with a tight back bridge. If you find this too easy you are not doing a tight enough back bridge. Be sure to balance on your head and not use your hands. You can use your hands for stability but that is all.
3. Planks – Planks, both front and side, should be added to any core muscle strengthening regimen. To do the front plank just rest your elbows in front of you on the floor and raise up so that your whole body from your feet to your head or in a straight line and hold this position. You will see quickly it’s not as easy as it looks. For side planks just use one elbow on the side and do the same and hold the straight line position with your body. Front planks will work your front abdominals and side planks will work your obliques.
4. Wrestler’s leg lifts – Leg lifts are you part of just about every high school wrestlers work out. They are very good for building and strengthening your lower abdominals and upper thigh muscles. To do the wrestler’s leg lifts lay down on a flat cushioned surface like a rug and raised your feet off the floor while keeping your legs straight. Then hold there for as long as you can. You can also lower and raise your legs and add crunches to this to make this work out really burn your front abdominals.
5. The wiggle – This is the real core workout and ab burner. This may look easy, but it is far from easy. To do the wiggle, start by laying on your back. Lift your legs bent at the knee so that your thighs are perpendicular to the floor. Cross your arms and grab your elbows with each hand (keeping your arms also perpendicular to the floor. Then wiggle across the floor by pulling your arms across your body and lifting your rear off the floor in an alternating fashion. You will quickly see that you will be walking (wiggling) across the floor sideways by using your back and all your core muscle groups. Be sure and wear a shirt so you don’t get rug burn and also be sure and move in both ways so you strengthen both sides of your abdomen (obliques). This move takes a while to figure out and get good at so don’t get frustrated early on. Just keep at it. There is no greater exercise for your core then the wiggle.
There are many other exercises you can do to build your core, but these here will work every part of your abdominals and lower back, especially the wiggle. Try them yourself and watch your back pain float away and become a thing of the past. I had serious back pain from a car wreck I was in. I had several fused vertebrae and my doctors said I would always suffer from back pain. Then I went to a naturalist or homeopathic doctor. He told me something none of the other doctors did. He told me to do lots of stomach exercises and to strengthen my front abdominals, obliques and lower back muscles. He said if I did that most if not all of my back pain would go away. He was right. Within 3 weeks of doing a full core abdominal workout using the exercises above I was virtually pain free and it didn’t take long to feel the benefits. The pain started to dwindle after the first few days.
Now, he was not a cheap doctor (his fee for the initial exam, tests and consult was around $300 if I remember correctly and my insurance refused to pay for it (Bluecross and Blueshield), but it was the best advise I have ever gotten. It also helped get me off those pain pills that I needed to be on bloodwork for (they had to check my lipid levels and liver functions while on those terrible pills). I am now pretty much free of any back pain (only rarely do I feel any pain and its usually only a slight dull feeling on cold, rainy days due to the metal screws and parts in my back from the surgery). I would say I feel much better and it doesn’t cost me or my insurance company a ton of money for all those pain pills and doctor’s visits I used to have to do. I still can’t see why Blue Cross wouldn’t pay for that one visit to the homeopathic doctor as it did end up fixing the problem and probably saved them thousands.
Anyways, I still do the above regimen every 3 days or so. I don’t do them all the same day. I break them up into what fits my schedule. Sometimes I’ll leave the wiggle all by itself as that is a tough workout. I will start at one end of my living room and wiggle all the way to the other side of the room and then go back to my starting point and I will do this several times. Be careful as the wiggle is no easy core exercise and will really cut up your abs and make your obliques burn. So, give it a try and strengthen your core abdominal and lower back muscles besides, what have you got to lose but your back pain and a little time?