0

Notifications

  • You're all caught up!

Abdominal Exercises that Will Not Hurt Your Back

by
author image Beth Rifkin
Based in San Francisco, Beth Rifkin has been writing health- and fitness-related articles since 2005. Her bylines include "Tennis Life," "Ms. Fitness," "Triathlon Magazine," "Inside Tennis," "American Fitness" and others. She holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from Temple University.
Abdominal Exercises that Will Not Hurt Your Back
A plank is less likely to hurt your back than a crunch. Photo Credit SebastianGauert/iStock/Getty Images

Sometimes, ab exercises can feel like a no-win proposition — you have back pain because you don’t have core strength, but training the region makes your back hurt.

To solve this problem, look for moves that train your entire core — the trunk muscles that surround and stabilize the spine, including your abdominal muscles — that won’t put undue stress on your back, causing it to ache.

Crunch It? No Way

When it comes to ab strength, your first thought might be to get on your back and start crunching. However, the repetitive action of curling the lumbar spine, as a crunch or sit-up requires, increases pressure on the discs and can lead to tears, which can progress to a herniated disk.

Additionally, sit-ups work your hip flexors, which are muscles that run from your thighs to your lower back. If you have tight or overly strong flexors, it can pull on the lower spine and cause low back pain.

Read more: Why Crunches Won't Give You Flat Abs

Basic: Leg Slides

Because this exercise maintains a neutral spine, it’s less likely to cause back pain.

HOW TO DO IT: Lie on your back, place your hands on your hip bones and move your spine into a neutral position. Your feet should be flat on the ground with knees bent.

Engage your ab muscles, exhale and extend your right leg, sliding your heel along the ground as you do. Return to the starting position and repeat on the left side. Complete six to eight reps on each legs.

Bird dog is a fantastic core exercise that keeps your back safe and strong.
Bird dog is a fantastic core exercise that keeps your back safe and strong. Photo Credit LIVESTRONG.COM

Intermediate: Bird Dog

While slightly awkward at first, the bird dog promotes lower back strength and helps work on balance.

HOW TO DO IT: Get on all fours, with your hands and knees on the ground. At the same time, raise your left arm forward and your right leg straight back. Keep your right hand and left knee on the ground to support your body.

Return your arm and leg to the floor, and raise your right arm forward and left leg straight back. Repeat on both sides for six to eight reps.

A modified plank helps you build core strength without putting your lower back at risk.
A modified plank helps you build core strength without putting your lower back at risk. Photo Credit LIVESTRONG.COM

Intermediate: Modified Plank

The plank pose is an ideal abdominal exercise because, according to the American Council on Exercise, it requires minimal movement while engaging all layers of the abdominal fascia.

HOW TO DO IT: Lie face-down. Raise your body so you're supporting yourself on your forearms and knees.

Position your elbows directly under your shoulders. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds, or as long as you can without shaking or compromising form.

Only reach as far as you can without feeling pain or strain in your back.
Only reach as far as you can without feeling pain or strain in your back. Photo Credit LIVESTRONG.COM

Advanced: Full Plank With Rotation

Once you've mastered the modified plank, push yourself to a full plank, which requires balancing on your toes instead of your knees. When that also becomes too easy, add a thoracic rotation for extra strength-building.

HOW TO DO IT: Lift up to a high plank position by balancing on your palms and toes, with your hands directly under your shoulders.

Press your right hand into the ground, rotate your feet and hips to the left and then raise your left arm toward to the ceiling.

Rotate your left arm back down. Press your left hand into the ground and repeat on the other side. Do three to six reps on each side.

Read More: 12 Moves for a Stronger Core and Better Posture

LiveStrong Calorie Tracker
Lose Weight. Feel Great! Change your life with MyPlate by LIVESTRONG.COM
GOAL
  • Gain 2 pounds per week
  • Gain 1.5 pounds per week
  • Gain 1 pound per week
  • Gain 0.5 pound per week
  • Maintain my current weight
  • Lose 0.5 pound per week
  • Lose 1 pound per week
  • Lose 1.5 pounds per week
  • Lose 2 pounds per week
GENDER
  • Female
  • Male
lbs.
ft. in.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

CURRENTLY TRENDING

Demand Media