To help protect and support your lower back from pain during exercise and daily activities it is essential you learn to activate and strengthen your deep abdominal muscles. These muscles are commonly known as your ‘core’ muscles. The core is where all movement in your body originates. Your core muscles are responsible for keeping you erect, stabilizing your body and absorbing impact from ground sources. Good core stability will oblige your pelvis muscles, hips, lower back and abdomen to work in harmony. It will also provide support to your spine for any activity. Those who activate their core muscles are less likely to have back pain and are able to protect their low back for the coming years. Do some simple core activation exercises and prevent low back injuries, improve performance and flatten your abs.
1) Plank exercise:
This exercise will help you to build up strength and endurance in your core. It is perfect to keep your lower back protected and stable during activities that involve the back and hips.
How to do Plank Exercise:
- Lie on your stomach with elbows bent and hands positioned directly under your shoulders.
- Now tighten your abdominals by imagining you are pulling your belly button in AND up.
- Lift your hips off the floor (see Picture A).Ensure your neck and spine are in a neutral position. Your gaze should be slightly above your finger tips to ensure your neck is in the correct position, and maintain tight abdominals to protect your lower back.
- Hold this position for 30 seconds and then lower hips back to the floor.
- Repeat these steps 3 times with a 15 sec rest in between.
- Once comfortable on your knees progress exercise lifting the knees of the floor as well (Picture B)
2) Hip bridge Exercise:
This is one of the best exercises to stabilize your spine and to strengthen the core muscles.
How to do Hip Bridge Exercise:
- Firstly, lay flat on your back. Keep your knees bent and both the hands straight and flat at side (Picture C).
- Keep your feet flat and shoulder width apart.
- Now tighten your abdominal muscles and slowly and steadily lift buttocks until your thighs are forming a straight line with your shoulders. Imagine peeling the spine off the ground one vertebrae at a time, starting with your lower back and working through to the ribcage. While doing this, make sure that your hands remain flat at side (see picture D)
- Hold this position for about 2 seconds keeping the abdominal muscles tight
- Lower your body back onto the floor by placing one vertebrae onto the ground at the time, starting with the upper back and moving down the spine until the tail bone is the last one to touch the ground.
- For the beginners, repeat these steps for 5 times and then slowly increase up to 10-12 times.