An angry lower back when you’re squatting, twisting and lifting overhead is a common dilemma experienced by, well, almost everyone, at some point or another. Injuries such as acute muscle and ligament strains could be the culprits (which appear in the form of spasms and chronic inflammation), but often, the cause of a weak lower back is an equally weak core.
“During exercise, we use three groups of muscles that stabilize and support the spine during movement,” says our go-to expert in sports-related chiropractic conundrums, Dr. James Ho. “Extensors in the back and glutes, flexors under the deep abdominal muscles and hips, and the transverse and oblique abdominal muscles that rotate and stabilize.” The problem, he says, is that these areas often get neglected or are inadequately trained, resulting in muscle imbalances, dysfunction and eventually, low back discomfort.
Obviously, if you think you have a serious injury, don’t waste time to seek out medical attention. But if you suspect a weak core is to blame for your bummer back problems, try this simple bodyweight routine a couple of times a week and say bye-bye back pain.
Sets: 3 | Reps: 6-10 (per side)
Set Up: Lie on your back and bend one knee, placing your foot flat on the floor, and extend the other leg straight out. Find the point where your back naturally arcs, and place your hands on the floor with palms down.
Action: Without using your lower back or spine, raise your head and shoulders off the floor. Imagine using your chest as the hinging point rather than your abdomen as you would in standard crunch. Hold at the top for at least 5 seconds, then slowly lower. Repeat all reps on one side, then switch legs.
Sets: 2-3 | Reps: 6-8 (each direction)
Set Up: Get into plank position with your forearms on the ground and legs extended out behind you. Brace your core and tilt your pelvis up towards your spine, keeping your butt in line with your body.
Action: Slowly draw circles with your hips by dropping your hips down to the right, over to the left, and back up. Repeat all reps on one side, then change directions. Confused? See the video below!
VIDEO: How to Stir-The-Pot
SIDE PLANK WITH ROTATION
Sets: 2-3 | Reps: 6-10 (per side)
Set Up: Get into a side plank with your elbow on the floor directly below your shoulder and legs extended, forming a straight line from the crown of your head to your heels.
Action: Using a controlled, fluid motion, reach your free arm down below your upper body, then straight up to the ceiling, following your hand with your eyes. Repeat all reps with this arm, then switch sides.
Sets: 3 | Reps: 6-8 (per side)
Set Up: Get on all fours with your hands below your shoulders and knees hip-width apart.
Action: Raise one arm and the opposite leg simultaneously until they are both in line with your body. Make sure to keep your hips square; try not to tilt to one side. Hold for 3 seconds, lower, and repeat with the opposite arm and leg. Continue alternating for all reps.