Exercises for Low Back
This is part 2 of a two-part article. For part 1, see Exercises for Lower Back
The side plank is (as I am sure you have guessed) just like the
plank except that it primarily stimulates the obliques (side of your stomach) instead of the rectus abdominis
(the muscle in the front of your stomach that gives shape to 6-pack abs).
To perform this exercise, lay on your side and prop yourself up on your feet and forearms so that no other body
part is touching the ground. Contract your glutes so that your body obtains the plank position and once again hold
for time. Switch sides and then repeat this drill on the opposite side.
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Just like the plank, starting from your knees makes this exercise easier (bend your lower leg by 90 degrees to
get your feet out of the way). Be sure to maintain neutral spine the entire time and make sure your body is in the
plank position. A common error is to not squeeze the glutes, resulting in the body not maintaining the straight
The side plank is one of the best exercises for low back pain. For optimal lower back protection, aim for
working up to 90 seconds per side over the next few months.
Combined Plank and Side Plank
Once you master the side plank, you can combine the side plank and plank into one fantastic exercise for low
back pain. To do this, start in a side plank and roll into the plank position. Once stable, come up into a side
plank on the opposite side. Perform repetitions by moving in succession from side plank to plank and then from
plank to side plank.
Key Point: When performing the combined plank and side plank, focus on keeping the spine still during
transitions. If you can not do this, go back to the plank and side plank as individual exercises and build
proficiency there before progressing to this exercise for low back pain.
Different stretches will benefit different people depending on what the issue is. In the case of a herniated
disc, it is common for the hamstrings to be tight with lacking gluteal development (literally having no butt). This
results in a posteriorly tipped pelvis and increases the risk of a herniated disc.
In this situation, it can be beneficial to stretch out the hamstrings.
Standing Hamstring Stretch
As mentioned earlier, keeping a neutral spine helps protect the spine from injury. Most hamstring stretches,
such as bending over and touching the toes or sitting down and reaching for the toes require the spine to flex a
great deal, which can exacerbate pain. As a result, it is recommended to perform a hamstring stretch while
Find something about 1-2 feet off the ground, such as a chair, to prop one foot up on. Hold onto something for
balance if necessary. With a slight bend in your supporting leg, stand up tall and then lean forward slightly until
you feel a stretch in the hamstring. You should be able to feel a stretch in the hamstring without having to flex
Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch
In other back pain situations, the hips are very tight and the pelvis is actually tilted anteriorly. This
results in tight lower back muscles and increases the risk for non-specific back pain. In this situation, it can be
very beneficial to stretch out the hip flexors. Here is how you can do it:
Kneel in a lunging position (drop down one knee) such that one foot is in front of you supporting you and the
other leg is on the ground with the knee on a mat or a pillow. Grab the back foot of the leg on the ground and
bring the foot towards your butt while shifting your body weight forward.
You should feel a stretch a the top of your quadriceps muscle and at the point where your thigh and abdomen
meet. Stretch each leg for 30 seconds. This is one of the best exercises for low back pain that you can do.
While these exercises are great for most types of back pain, I strongly recommend that you find a few more
exercises specific to your condition. The 7 Day Back Pain Cure is my number one resource for helping people find
appropriate exercises for low back pain.
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