Dr. Stuart McGill, having authored several books and performed many studies on back pain, is one of the world’s foremost spine experts. In his work he has narrowed down what he calls his “Big 3” of core exercises for the treatment and prevention of back pain. Here they are:
- The Curl Up– while this may look somewhat like a crunch, take note of the position of the lower body.
- Begin with one leg straight and the other knee bent with that foot flat on the ground.
- Press the small of your back into the floor and keep it in contact with the floor all the way through the exercise. It may help to place the hands under the lumbar of the back if you have trouble getting this down.
- Keep the chine tucked slightly into the chest and lift the shoulder blades off of the floor and hold for 7-8 seconds.
- Repeat for the same number of reps with the other leg extended.
- The Bird Dog– Project Fitness members will recognize this as one that we call the quadriplex. But in deference to Dr. McGill, we’re going with Bird Dog here.
- Assume a 4 point stance with the shoulders over the wrists and the hips over the knees.
- Extend the right arm and left leg out from the body focusing on length not necessarily height of the lift.
- Hold the position for 7-8 seconds and repeat with the other arm and leg.
- Repeat for the desired number of reps.
- The Lateral Bridge–
- Begin in a side lying position with the shoulder positioned directly over the elbow and the legs straight out. You can start out with the feet positioned heel to toe with the top leg in front. As you get stronger with this, you can stack the feet on top of each other.
- While keeping the head in a straight line with the rest of the body, lift the hips off of the ground and brace the midsection and hold.
- Aim for 30-60 seconds. If necessary, you can start from the knees rather than with legs extended. This makes the exercise a bit easier.
Okay, so who should use this? Well, everyone should probably have these or some variation of these in their programs at some point. But if you have experienced back pain in your life, then you would be wise to make them a priority. That said, don’t take this article or these exercises as a way to “cure” your back pain. If you are hurting, go see a professional and work under the watchful eye of said professional. Have a great and pain free day!