A 10-Minute Seated Core Workout for People With Back Pain

You can do this entire core workout sitting down to alleviate back pain.
Image Credit: Brittany Hammond/LIVESTRONG.com

One of the most important things we can do to alleviate back pain is build our core strength. This can be a catch-22 when we aren't actually able to perform the exercises that will strengthen our core due to our pain.

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The good news: Research — like this March 2015 study in the ‌Journal of Physical Therapy Science‌ — shows that core strength training is more effective than typical resistance training for alleviating chronic low back pain.

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A common misconception about the core is that it's comprised of only your abdominals. However, your core actually spans from your shoulder girdle to your pelvic girdle and goes around both the anterior (front) and posterior (back) of your body. It's the foundation for all movement from your body, and it keeps you stabilized as you move. Not only is your core integral in your stabilization, but a strong core also assists with your balance and posture.

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Many core exercises are performed on the floor, and getting up and down can be a challenge when you have back pain. Using a chair to perform seated core work is a great alternative and can be just as effective. Once you strengthen your core, you can progress to the floor for your more traditional core exercises, should you choose to.

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How to Do the Workout

If you have chronic back pain, try this 10-minute seated core workout to build your core strength. Perform 4 sets of 10 reps of each exercise.

You'll be able to get the same great core work with none of the pain of getting on and off of the floor. All you need is a place to sit, like a chair, bench or couch.

1. Seated Crunch

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Sets 4
Reps 10
Body Part Abs
  1. Start seated with your feet on the floor and your back tall against the back of your chair.
  2. Place your hands behind your head with your elbows out to the side.
  3. Engage your core, tuck your chin and crunch your body forward.
  4. Return to the starting position and repeat.

2. Seated Toe Tap

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Sets 4
Reps 10
Body Part Abs
  1. Start seated toward the front of your chair with your feet flat on the floor.
  2. Lift your feet off the floor until you feel tension in your core.
  3. Keeping your right leg in place, tap your left toe to the ground.
  4. Bring your left leg back up to meet your right.
  5. Keeping you left leg in place, tap your right toe to the ground.
  6. Continue alternating until all reps are complete.

3. Seated Bicycle Crunch

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Sets 4
Reps 10
Body Part Abs
  1. Sit at the edge of your chair with your feet flat on the floor, with your hands behind your head.
  2. Lift your right knee up, and cross your left elbow across your body to meet your right knee.
  3. Place your right foot back on the floor.
  4. Lift your left knee up and cross your right elbow across your body to meet your left knee.
  5. Continue alternating until all reps are complete.

4. Seated Hip Hinge

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Sets 4
Reps 10
Body Part Abs and Back
  1. Sit at the edge of your chair with your feel flat on the floor and your hands behind your head.
  2. Keeping your chest tall, hinge at your hips, bringing your chest to meet the tops of your thighs.
  3. Return to the starting position and repeat.

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