As the sun starts to poke through the windows, you open your eyes, roll onto your back, and let out a yawn. As you arch back, you feeling a squeezing aching shoot out of your back. Sounds familiar? It’s estimated that 80% of the U.S. population will experience back pain at some point in their lives, but the good news is that most cases are due to reversible imbalances instead of serious conditions. But that doesn’t really take the pain away does it?
Although back pain can be due to a variety of different causes, a very common one resonates with anyone who works an office job – sitting for extended periods. I recently talked about methods of alleviating the back pain caused by sedentary behavior, but sometimes the pain is just too great for us to be waiting on small changes to gradually shift us back into comfort. I’ve learned 3 very effective movements from world-renown spine researcher Stuart McGill, that can really help add support to your existing weak link.
**Note** As with anyone bodily condition or experience, the underlying cause can vary, if you feel that your back pain is severe or persisting, consult a physician or chiropractor before you try to self-treat.
Lay onto your side with knees bent and elbow underneath you.
Raise your body up and make sure your weight lies on your elbow and knees. While your body is raised, make sure to keep alignment of the spine and do not allow the hips to drop.
Hold position for 10 seconds and then switch sides.
For a more advanced version, move onto the feet instead of the knees.
McGill Curl Up
Place your hands under your lower back to help you maintain a neutral spine position. The purpose here is to keep your lower back in its naturally elevated position, so you want to avoid pressing down with your lower back. If you have trouble maintaining this position, try using a rolled up towel.
Bring one leg up and keep it bent, while the other leg remains straight lying down. This helps lock in the ideal position for you to be in as you go through the movement. Halfway through, you’ll want to alternate the raised knee.
Raise your head and upper back off of the floor and hold for 8 seconds, then release. When you’re in position, allow your core muscle to flex, but avoid over-tightening of the core muscles during this movement. While your upper back is raised, remember to breathe. At no time should your lower back be elevated from your neutral position.
If you feel that you’re unable to comfortably perform the exercise in 8 second intervals, start from 3-4 and work your way up. Another great option starting out is just lifting the body up and then lowering it back down in a controlled manner. Remember that maintaining good form is always the priority.
Get onto your hands and knees, while maintaining a neutral spine position. During this exercise, it helps to tighten the core for support.
Raise one arm and the opposite leg up to a horizontal height and pause for 1-2 seconds. Bring them back down in a controlled, steady motion. Alternate sides as you progress. While you’re performing this movement, don’t forget to breathe. The goal here is just to be able to perform the motion in a steady and controlled manner.
So now that you know, give these movements a shot and start strengthening your core muscles today. Be patient and perform these exercises on a daily basis. I’ve seen back pain ease up in as soon as 2-3 weeks, but also sometimes a few months. As long as you’re persistent, the increased core support will pay off in the long run.