5 Quick Core Exercises for Better Back Health

By Savanna Stone
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5 Quick Core Exercises for Better Back Health

If you have back pain, you’d probably do anything to get rid of it, even exercise, which is good. Because strengthening your core muscles can help reduce back pain and bring better back health in the long run. 


Here are 5 quick core exercises to do when you wake up in the morning or whenever you have a little free time. Do as many reps as you have time for. 


Why does strengthening your core help reduce back pain?


Your core muscles are made up of the front abdominal muscles, the muscles along the side of your body, and the muscles in your back that run along your spine. If any of these muscles are weak, your body relies on other things like ligaments to hold up your spine and body, causing back pain galore. As you strengthen your core muscles, your back pain can slowly disappear.




Dead bug

Pro Tip: To avoid lower back pain, try and keep the small of your back flush with the ground by engaging your abdominal muscles.

  1. Lie on your back with your arms and legs straight up in the air but with bent legs.
  2. Slowly lower your right arm and left leg simultaneously until they reach an inch from the ground. Repeat on the other side.
  3. Do 3 sets of 15 reps.


Full plank

Pro tip: If this is too difficult for you, try lowering your knees to the ground. If it is too easy, try touching opposite shoulders with the tips of your fingers as you hold the plank position. Whatever you choose, keep your spine straight and your neck in line with your spine.



  1. Start on your hands and knees with your shoulders directly over your hands and your hips directly over your knees.
  2. Step both feet back and curl your toes under. 
  3. Hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
  4. Rest for 15 seconds and repeat 2 more times. 


Boat 

Pro Tip: If this is too difficult for you, bend your knees so your shins are parallel to the ground. You can even hold onto the back of your legs, just make sure to really reach your chest up to the sky and engage your abdominal muscles. 

  1. Sit down on the floor with your knees bent and your hands behind your head.
  2. Lean back slightly so that your feet lift off the ground. Your body should look like a V.
  3. Keeping your core tight, touch your toes and rest your legs and arms back down. Note: Don’t round your back because it can cause back pain. Don’t rest your whole body back down for this exercise.
  4. Do 3 sets of 15 reps.

Side plank reach

Pro Tip: If you find this exercise difficult, instead of placing one foot on top of the other, place each foot on the ground or bend your top knee and place your foot on the ground in front of your hip. You can also try holding your arm up for 30 second intervals without reaching down. If you need more of a challenge, lift your top leg up into the air as you lift your arm.

  1. Get into the side plank position as described above.
  2. Straighten your top arm up to the sky, taking your gaze with it.
  3. Staying in the side plank position, reach your top arm down to touch the inside of your lower chest. Return to the starting position.
  4. Do 3 sets of 15 reps.


Knee to elbow

Pro Tip: For great results, try slowly bringing your knee toward your elbow to make sure they touch. Or bring your right knee to your left elbow and hold. 



  1. Start in the plank position.
  2. Keeping your core tight and your back straight, pull your right knee up to touch your right elbow.
  3. Do the same with your left side.
  4. Do 3 sets of 15 reps.
  5. To make it even more difficult, try mountain climbers, which is the same as the knee to elbow exercise but much faster like you are running.

The best post-workout recovery you could ask for

The Chirp Wheel reaches those muscles right next to your spine (your core muscles) so that after your workout, you can get a gentle massage and feel great.


How to roll out on the Chirp Wheel

1. Lean back.


  • Sit on the ground with knees bent and feet firmly planted. 
  • Place the Chirp Wheel+ against your back in alignment with your spine. Take some time to center yourself and find balance even on the ground.
  • Lean back gently to transfer your weight to the wheel. Relax and find balance in this position before lifting your hips.

2. Lift hips.

  • Rest your hands on the ground, the wheel, or your chest for balance. Do whichever feels the most comfortable for you.
  • Lift your hips upward while relaxing your back. Find balance with your hips lifted before rolling on the wheel. 
  • Don’t tense up! The more you relax your back, the better it will feel.


3. Roll back and forth.

  • Begin to roll back and forth on the wheel by bending and straightening your legs. Use your hands for balance.
  • Just relax and hear the gentle pops, each one a quiet thank you from your spine. 
  • If one spot on your back is screaming for an extra massage, stop rolling to put pressure on that spot. Or switch to a smaller wheel.
  • Roll out for 3 to 5 minutes. Length of preferred use will vary by individual.
  • Relax your head back to avoid neck pain.




 

 

References

Athletic Medicine. (2021). Lumbar/core strength and stability exercises. Retrieved from https://uhs.princeton.edu/sites/uhs/files/documents/Lumbar.pdf 

Cleveland Clinic. (2020, May 29). Why a strong core can help reduce low back pain. Retrieved from https://health.clevelandclinic.org/strong-core-best-guard-back-pain/ 

Harris-Fry, N. (2020, July 2). The best core exercises for all levels of gym-goer. Retrieved from https://www.coachmag.co.uk/fitness/core-exercises

Heffernan, A. (2019, September 3). 6 side plank variations that will clobber your core. Retrieved from https://www.openfit.com/side-plank-exercise-variations

Savva, A. (2020, January 7). The 5 best ab exercises—and the ones that are wasting your time. Retrieved from https://www.chatelaine.com/health/fitness/ab-exercises-that-are-wasting-your-time-5-moves-you-should-do-instead/

Sports Health & Fitness Cleveland Clinic. (2020, May 29). Why a strong core can help reduce low back pain. Retrieved from https://health.clevelandclinic.org/strong-core-best-guard-back-pain/