Lower back pain may result from imbalanced abdominal muscles that unless exercised, will weaken over time and cause spinal instability. Exercising your abdominal muscles helps develop the strength necessary to prevent back pain. You can perform these exercises at home at least four days a week for the best results.
Warm up your core muscles prior to more intense abdominal exercises. Go for a five minute walk or march on the spot for a few minutes. Then kneel on your hands and knees for 10 rounds of Cat/Cow; a fluid yoga movement. Start with your back flat and your spine in a neutral position. Exhale and slowly round your back and shoulders as you gaze toward your belly button. Inhale and reverse the motion, tracking your gaze up to the ceiling as you arch your back and drop your belly. Focus on moving fluidly, rather than stretching or pushing.
Lie on your back on a rug or yoga mat to strengthen your oblique muscles -- along the sides of your abdomen. Bend your knees toward your chest. Put your hands behind your head. Exhale, straighten your right leg and lift your head and shoulders off the floor, while bringing your right elbow toward your left, bent knee. Inhale and return to your original position. Repeat on the other side. Work your way up to 15 times per side.
Lie on an exercise mat and slide your hands underneath your low back to help you maintain a slight spinal arch. Bend one leg, planting the sole of your foot firmly on the mat to help lock your pelvis into position. Keep the other leg straight and gently but securely pressed into your mat. Practice crunches from this position, curling only your shoulders off the floor and then lowering them back to the mat in a controlled manner. Switch the bent leg half way through your repetitions.
Straight Leg Raises
Lie on your back with one leg bent. Press the sole of the foot into the mat while the other leg remains straight. Engage your core muscles while you raise the extended leg six to 12 inches off the mat as you exhale. Inhale and gradually lower your leg back to the mat. Complete five to 10 lifts; switch legs and repeat. As you gain strength, try holding the raised leg for up to five seconds before lowering it, while remembering to breathe naturally. This exercise challenges both your abdominal muscles and lower back muscles.
Before you begin, consult a physician to get clearance to exercise, especially if you have a spinal injury or chronic pain. Learn proper alignment for each pose and adhere to it to prevent further injury. Avoid poses in which you bend forward without support. Do not twist at the waist with your feet turned, especially while carrying a weight, writes Brad A. Roy, Ph.D. for the American Council on Exercise. Do not do exercises that require you to lift both legs at the same time while lying down. Move into each pose slowly; avoid rapid or jerky movements.
- Spine Health: Back Exercises and Abdominal Exercise Recommendations; Thomas E. Hyde, D.C.
- ACE Personal Trainer Manual; Brad A. Roy, Ph.D., et al.
- American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons: Low Back Pain Exercise Guide