Core Stability Exercises to Decrease Chronic Low Back Pain
By: Caitlin Scheib
Most people experience low back pain at some point in their lifetime. It may be from sitting in a car for extended periods of time, running, doing construction work, hitting a PR on a power clean, or even carrying a baby in your arms on one side. All of these activities involve a different level of core strength and stability, however, they all depend on it! Core stability is more complex than being able to do 100 crunches. It involves the musculature that connects each vertebra together as well as the more superficial musculature that connects the trunk and hips. These body segments must work together to keep the spine stable while performing the movements that are required. Some muscles are considered a “prime mover”, meaning those muscles are in charge of that action, while other muscles are considered a “stabilizer” in that they make sure there is no movement occurring. All together, core stability is essential for almost every movement that the body is able to perform. Below are three great examples of exercises that help to build core stability:
Lawn Mowers with Resistance
To perform: place leg closest to the resistance cable in front in a lunge position. The opposite hand will hold the resistance cable so the arm is across the body. Arm remains straight while going down into the lunge. Keep weight shifted on the front leg while driving through the hips to stand and rotate outwards. Control the movement back into the lunge position without allowing the cable to pull you out of position. Complete 2-3 sets of 10-15 reps. This exercise helps to increase glute strength, which in turn will help to create better core stability in functional movements.
Plank with Resisted Rotation
To perform: start in a push up position with the hand closest to the cable in front of the cable. Throughout the movement, make sure to maintain a pelvic neutral position while contracting the core muscles in towards the spine. Opposite hand will hold the resistance cable so the arm reaches underneath the body. Rotate away from the cable while maintaining all balance on one hand and both feet keeping a good plank position. Return to initial starting position with arm reaching underneath the body. Complete 2-3 sets of 10-15 reps. This exercise helps train the core musculature to stabilize the vertebrae with a rotational component added with resistance.
Side Plank Row with Hip Bridges
To perform: begin in a side plank position facing the cable on elbow. With the arm not on the ground, grab the cable with arm straight and some resistance on the cable. While holding a stable side plank position, perform a row with the top arm making sure to initiate the movement by squeezing the scapula back towards the spine. Complete 10 rows in this position. On the 10th row, hold shoulder back in the row position and perform 10 side bridges. While performing the side bridge, only allow the hip to lightly touch the ground before coming back into the full side plank position. Complete 10 side bridges with row hold. Complete 2-3 sets of each exercise. This exercise targets more of the lateral musculature of the vertebrae including the internal and external obliques. This builds core stability by maintaining a neutral spine while having a resistance placed horizontally on the body.