If you've ever tried to do a core workout and instead of feeling your abs, you are feeling the strain or pain on your lower back and neck. It can be tough to stick through the workout if you constantly end up in pain and discomfort. If this sounds like you, watch this video and start off with these 5 exercises to strengthen your core, without adding that extra tension on your lower back and neck!!
This exercise allows movement of the hips and arms without moving the spine.
How to perform:
Lie flat on your back with yours arms extended up to the ceiling and your knees and hips bent to 90 degrees. Keeping your rib cage down and back fully rested on the floor, extend your your opposite arm and leg out. Return to starting position and repeat the movement on the opposite side. Avoid arching your lower back, keep it fully rested on the floor throughout.
Plank with One Knee Bent
Do you find yourself in these position? Arched lower back, or butt up. If you struggle to keep your body in a straight line and experience lower back pain when performing a plank, then start off by doing Plank with One Knee Bent.
This plank variation helps to reduce the pressure on your spine and puts more tension on the abdominal muscles. So it helps to properly strengthen your core without getting the lower back sore. As your core gets stronger, then get onto both feet and perform a normal Plank.
Raised Leg Crunches
Raised leg crunches are more superior and lower back friendly compared to regular crunches. By keeping your legs in a 90 degree positions, this helps to deactivate the hip flexors and keeps the lower back flat against the floor.
So, there are no flexion or extension happening in your lumbar spine if the exercise is done correctly. This way your abs are forced to do all the work.
If your neck is coming up first, watch out! To avoid neck pain, do not place your hands behind your head because this will tempt you to pull forward and lift your neck. Do not jerk your head forward and use momentum to lift yourself up.
Place your hands next to your head and focus on engaging your core to lift yourself off. Your head, neck and abs should be in one straight line. And remember as you crunch up, engage your core and aim to lift your shoulder off the floor. Do not rush through the movement.
Use this exercise to develop a proper strength in your upper abs while reducing the risk of lower back or neck pain.
We know now that our core also consists of the oblique muscles, hence we got to strengthen that too. Side Plank is extremely effective to target the obliques and lower back.
Start in a forward plank hold position. Slowly rotate over to one side, putting the weight on your left arm and feet. The elbow should be directly under the should. Place your right arm on your hip. Avoid sinking your hips down to the ground, because this can cause strain in the lower back.
Be sure to hold your ab muscles tight and keep your hips raised throughout the exercise. Hold this position for 15 - 20 seconds and slowly rotate back to staring position and hold the side plank on the other side. If this is too tough, then place your top leg in front of you as balance.
Superman is a great exercises to strength the muscles along your spine.
Lie on your stomach, legs straight out and arms stretched overhead. Engage your ab muscles and raise the opposite arm and leg off the floor. Hold for 3 - 5 breaths. Slowly lower them down and repeat on the opposite side. Continue alternating for a total of 10 reps.
Avoid looking forward and add extra strain on your neck. Keep your neck in a neutral position by looking down throughout the exercise.