How to Strengthen Your Core & Fight Back Pain

by Head Health Nutter on June 23, 2015

Here’s another doozy of an article by regular contributor, Adrienne from Foodie Fitness blog, about what you can do to eradicate back pain for good!

When someone talks about strengthening his or her core, most minds go to a set of washboard abs. And, while the abs are the show-stopping piece of your core, they’re not the only piece. Your core has an effect on the way that your entire body feels, especially your back.

Back pain in young girls isolated on whiteA strong core keeps your spine supported, which means it’s less likely to ache after a long — or even a not-so-long — day. You yourself might be experiencing light back pain already, or perhaps you’ve seen others at their achiest and decided to put some preventative measures into motion.

No matter what, the following four ideas will have you saying “aah" instead of “ow" when the end of the day rolls around.

1. Slow-Moving Crunches

The crunch is one of the most well-known ways to strengthen your core; however, the wrong kind of crunch can do more harm than good. Many times, people pull their heads and necks up with their arms, rather than letting their core muscles do the lifting. This can cause added neck and — you guessed it — spinal pain, which is not so good if you’re already hurting.

To ensure you’re crunching correctly, cross your hands on your chest instead of cradling your head in your hands. Then, slowly lift and hold your core muscles while your shoulders move upward toward your knees. You don’t have to sit up all the way — a crunch that you lift slowly and hold should do the trick. Return your shoulders to the ground to complete one rep.

2. To the Wall

Not all core exercises take place on the floor. All you need is a wall (and, preferably, a mirror) to perform wall sits. This simple move engages your core and your legs so you’ll stand taller than ever.

All you have to do is bend your knees and rest your back against the wall. Make sure it’s flat as you dip your knees a little lower so your legs form 90-degree angles. You should be standing as though there’s a chair under you, and you can check your angles should you have a mirror next to you. Hold it for whatever period of time feels challenging but not excessively strenuous.

3. Take the Plunge

Not all workouts have to take place on land. In fact, an aquatic workout can give your core just as much work as if you were crunching on land. There are endless possibilities when it comes to pool workouts, really. A simple swim works all of the body’s muscles, but you might want something a bit more targeted. If so, try bringing a Swiss ball with you next time you’re in the pool.

A Swiss ball can help you fortify your core, even if you’re in the water. For example, you can simply sit on a Swiss ball as you would on land and, voila, your core will be engaged. If you dislike doing mat-based core exercises, you can plunge the ball in and out of the water to mimic the move of a crunch. All the while, the water keeps your muscles relaxed and supports your body, which means moves might be a bit simpler, too.

4. Watch Your Weight(s)

Finally, you can strengthen your back the good, old-fashioned way: by lifting weights. This requires the utmost attention to form and detail, though, since weightlifting can cause injuries when performed by unprepared parties.

Perhaps your fitness center has machines ready-made for strengthening backs, lower backs and cores. If so, you’re in luck: Start here until you’re ready to try moves that are a bit more targeted and challenging. You could also try free weights. No matter what, avoid weight lifting if you suffer from sudden, acute back pain, as this can exacerbate the situation. Otherwise, lift.

Try any of these four options to feel stronger, healthy, less achy … in a single word, better.

About the Author

Adrienne is a blogger and freelance designer passionate about healthy living, good food, and fitness. You can see more of her work by following @foodierx on Twitter or visiting her blog, Foodie Fitness.

What do you do to strengthen your back?

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