When dealing with an aching back, the last thing you feel like doing is a workout, I know. But when it comes to back pain, gentle exercise really is the best medicine. Studies show it can work about as well as physical therapy for injuries, and that a strengthening program for your core may actually help you alleviate minor back pain for good.
Below you will find a super simple routine to help protect your back from pain. You'll want to work this circuit into any strength-training you're already doing—repeat the circuit three times, and do it twice a week.
(Important: If you're dealing with shooting pains or an acute back injury, check with your doctor before you start any exercise routine, including this one.)
Lie on your back and place your feet in the air at a 90 degree angle with your lower back pressed into the floor. From here lower your right heel and tap the ground. Then bring it back to neutral position. Then lower the left. Alternate for 20 reps before moving to the next exercise.
Lie on your back with your feet placed firmly on the ground and your knees bent. Keeping your hands at your sides and your core tight, squeeze your glutes as you lift your hips off the floor as high as you can. Hold for 1-2 seconds before lowering back down. Repeat for 20 reps.
Lie on your stomach with your arms above your head and legs straight out behind you. In one movement, lift your arms and legs off the floor as high as you can, squeezing your glutes and thighs, as well as your back. Hold for 1-2 seconds before lowering back down to the floor. Repeat for 20 reps.
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Just like the hip bridge, lie on your back with your feet placed firmly on the ground and your knees bent. Keeping your hands at your sides and your core tight, squeeze your glutes as you lift your hips off the floor as high as you can. From here, you will pulse up and down without coming back fully down to the floor. Complete 30 pulses before lowering back to the floor.
Find a sturdy wall and lean up against it with your back. Squat down until your hips are parallel with your knees. Make sure your knees are straight above your toes, keeping your legs at a 90 degree angle. Hold for 1 minute.
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Jennifer Cohen is a leading fitness authority, TV personality, entrepreneur and best-selling author of the new book, Strong is the New Skinny. With her signature, straight-talking approach to wellness, Jennifer was the featured trainer on The CW’s Shedding for the Wedding, mentoring the contestants’ to lose hundreds of pounds before their big day, and she appears regularly on NBC’s Today Show, Extra, The Doctors and Good Morning America. Connect with Jennifer on Facebook, Twitter, G+ and on Pinterest.