Sore Back? Try These Five Exercises to Strengthen Your Core

How’s your core strength? Though you use your core – including your abdominal and lower back muscles – whenever you move, if your core is weak, you’re more likely to have back pain. The solution? Do some simple core- strengthening exercises two or three times a week. They’ll also improve your flexibility and may even make you look trimmer.


Start with one set of the following exercises, and gradually work up to 2 or 3 sets/week:

 

Plank

This move is one of the best because it engages your deepest core muscles. Start by lying face down with your hands on the ground just outside your shoulders. Push your body up onto your toes and hands, as if you’re going to do a pushup, maintaining a straight line from the crown of your head to your feet. Breathe normally as you hold for a count of 10; lower your body back down to the floor and rest before repeating.

 

Make it easier: Instead of pushing up onto your hands and toes, put your weight on your forearms and toes – or hold for a shorter count, like 5.

 

Make it more challenging: Hold for a longer count, like 20 or 30.

 

Bicycle

This gym-class favorite targets all of your abs, including your obliques, which run along the sides of your torso. Start on your back, with your fingers interlaced behind your head, your knees bent at 90-degree angles, shins parallel to the ground. Lift your head and shoulders to bring your left elbow toward your left knee while extending your right leg out; return to your starting position and then bring your right elbow toward your right knee while extending your left leg. That’s 1 rep; do 12 to 20.

 

Make it easier: Lower the number of reps.

 

Make it more challenging: Increase reps or do the exercise more slowly.

 

Crunch

The crunch looks easy, but done correctly, it’s a challenging and effective way of targeting your abs. Start by lying on your back with your arms across your chest. Lift your head and shoulders off of the ground a few inches; pause and lower down, with control. That’s 1 rep; do 12 to 20.

 

Make it easier: Do fewer reps.

 

Make it more challenging: Do more reps, or do the exercise more slowly.

 

Superman

This move targets both your abs and lower back muscles. Start by lying facedown with your arms extended in front of you, palms on the ground. Lift your arms and legs a few inches off of the ground at the same time and hold for a count of 3 to 6; return to starting position. Do 3 to 5 reps.

Make it easier: Hold for a shorter count, or lift arms first, and then legs (instead of at the same time).

Make it more challenging: Hold for a longer count.

Extended Leg Lift and Hold  

This move targets abs and your lower back. Start by lying on your back with your legs straight, and then slide your palms atop each other under your lower back. Lift your feet about 6 inches off the ground and hold for a count of 5 to 10. Do 3 to 5 reps.

 

Make it easier: Hold for a shorter count.

 

Make it harder: Hold for a longer count.

 

Do This
Always check with your doctor before you start any exercise program.

Categories: Get Moving

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