5 Body Weight Exercises to Ward Off Low Back Pain

Low-back pain is the most common chronic pain issue in the U.S.  While many conditions can lead to lower back pain, inadequate core strength is a the usual culprit.

The more we are sitting at our desks at work, at the dinner table, in our cars and on the couch, we are putting our low backs at increased risk of injury. Here are a few common reasons why alot of sitting can lead to low back pain:

- The deep core muscles are designed to endure prolonged contractions to support and stabilize the spine. When we slouch in a chair all day, the core remains relatively inactive. This results in a decreased signal from the brain to the core telling it to “turn on” and protect the spine when necessary.

- The psoas major, one of the strongest hip flexors, originates at the lumbar spine. Sitting can shorten this muscle, putting chronic stress on the low back.

- The gluteal muscles, which are the powerful hip extensors, become lengthened and weak, known as “glute amnesia.” These muscles are then unable to do their job in regular activities of daily living, forcing other muscles, such as those in the low back, to take over the work.

While avoiding sitting altogether is unrealistic, specific exercises can help to minimize your chance of developing lower back pain, or help manage it. Here are five effective body-weight exercises you can do anywhere to ward off low back pain.

In the video below I demonstrate how to do each one with proper form. Here are a few more tips:

1. Plank: Don't let your hips sag and don't let your butt come up too high. Suck your belly button in and flex your legs to help keep you straight.  Hold for 30-60 seconds (or as long as you can)  Do this 3 times each day.

2. Side Plank: Your elbow should be right under your shoulder. Flex your bottom leg to keep you straight and to keep your hips high. Don't let your hips and butt sag back, keep it tucked in forward. Come to a knee if you need to. Suck your belly button in and keep your core tight. Hold for 30-60 seconds (or as long as you can) and do this 3 times a day. 

3. Back Extension: Come up just as high as you can, holding as long as you can. Repeat for 10-15 reps, and do this for 3 rounds. 

4. Glute Bridge: Push through your heels, keeping your heels close to your butt. Lift your hips as high as you can with a little pause at the top. Make it harder by doing just 1 leg at a time. Do 3 rounds of 

10-15 reps.

5. Bird Dog: Keep your core tight here, and make it harder if you need to by moving those arms and legs. Do 3 rounds of 10-15 reps.

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Your massage therapist,