You have probably heard about the importance of strengthening your core abdominal muscles and back muscles in order to prevent back pain. If you have lower back pain, whether it is from an injury, soft tissue damage, or poor posture over time, strengthening your abdominal and back muscles (known as your core) can significantly help, however, you must know how to work out correctly to avoid injuring your back further.
If you suffer from back pain and are considering beginning a work-out routine there are some tips here that will help you to develop a plan that could alleviate a lot of your back problems. As with any workout though, it is always a good idea, especially if you have an injury or chronic pain, to consult with your doctor before beginning any exercise program.
Having weak core muscles, abdominal and back muscles that line the spine, can cause or increase back problems. Strengthening your abs is just as important as strengthening your back muscles if you are looking for lower back support and to decrease pain. In fact, there are several reasons that a core strengthening workout is right for you if you suffer from back pain. These include:
- Decreasing the likelihood of back pain episodes
- Decreasing the severity of these episodes
- Protecting against further back injury
- Helping to avoid the need for back surgery
- Facilitating healing from a back injury or surgery
- Improving posture
What should someone with lower back problems consider before even beginning an ab workout?
As mentioned before, you must consult a physician before beginning any work out if you suffer from pain or have had an injury. Your doctor knows the ins and outs of your situation and can help steer you towards a work out that will help you rather than causing increased pain or added injury.
Additionally, you want to make sure you have proper footwear. It seems like something minor, but exercising in shoes that are not made for exercise can cause injury and increased pain. Don’t cut corners when it comes to sneakers that fit correctly and provide enough support.
Finally, make sure you build in time for stretching both at the beginning and end of the work out. Short muscles can impact the alignment of the spine and cause back problems. Stretching exercises that lengthen muscles can help to relieve back pain.
What is an ab workout that someone with lower back problems that you can do on a daily basis?
If you suffer from lower back problems it is crucial to try to do at least 10-20 minutes of daily core strengthening exercises to tone the muscles that support your spine and hopefully improve or eliminate your pain situation. A good core strengthening workout always begins with at least five minutes of stretching and ends with stretching as well to help relieve muscle tightening that can occur. In between there are several exercises you can do right at home that will focus on your core abdominal muscles, lower abdominals, and obliques. These exercises include:
You can use our exercise finder for more information on the proper form and techniques for any of these exercises. There are some important points to note when it comes to doing regular crunches. These are a common part of any abdominal workout; however, you need to be careful when you do them so that you do not cause further injury to your back or neck. Always keep these tips in mind when performing crunches:
- Do not anchor your feet on the floor which can injure your lower back.
- Use a rolled up towel placed under the natural curve of your back for additional support.
- Your hands go behind your head for support only. Do not pull your head forward.
- Start out slow and only do a few crunches at first. If you find over time you can do crunches without increased back pain you can do more.
- Your lower and middle back should remain on the floor at all times in a neutral position. You may have heard exercise professionals use the term pushing your belly button to down to the floor. This motion will help keep your back flat.
What is an ab workout for those with lower back problems that you can do at the gym?
If you workout at a gym or health club you probably want to do more than the basic stretches and exercises listed above. After all you are paying for your membership and those are all exercises that can easily be done at home. So, what else can you do that will strengthen your abdominals and help your lower back? There are actually several things you can do that will benefit your core and lower back.
- First, the use of a fitness or stability ball is a great tool for strengthening your ab and back muscles while providing the support you need to prevent further strain. There are several different exercises all done on a stability ball that are easy to do and help with core strengthening.
- Next, you can take a Pilates, yoga, or Tai Chi class. All of these incorporate exercises, stretches, and movements that are very good for building core strength.
- Finally, consider low impact aerobics, which means aerobic activity where both feet never leave the floor at the same time. You might take a low impact aerobics class or participate in an activity such as walking, riding a stationary bike, or swimming, all of which are examples of low impact aerobic activities that strengthen the abdominal muscles.
Speaking of swimming, water exercises are very good for building strength while supporting the back and preventing injury or pain. Many physical therapists recommend therapy programs done in a swimming pool.
Back pain needs to be handled with the advice of your doctor and a well planned, core and back strengthening exercise routine. Use the A-Z exercise library and the free Fitness Report Card to get started now!