The following five drills are all bodyweight exercise that are evidence based and I have used with many of my clients in real life with great success. I have also written a small discription which should give you an understanding why these particular exercises work to improve the muscular imbalances which often contribute to Lower Back Pain. What’s best of all; all these 5 exercises can be done on a daily basis the comfort of your office, home and without equipment.
1. Cat – Camel
The Cat-Camel is a gentle exercise which decreases the muscle tension of your
erector spinae which contributes to that tight sensation you may often feel
particularly in your lower back. The Cat-Camel does this by moving allowing your back to go into flexion (cat) and
extension (camel) without any axial loading in doing so improving spinal viscosity in a safe manner. Most people do this wrong by not having the hands and knee not align to superior joints. During the upward motion
The Bird-Dog has been shown to increase core recruitment and improve spine alignment 15. This is done by your opposing arm and leg providing opposing weight in a rotary manner therefore demanding your core to stabilise any movement of the spine. Furthermore the Bird-Dog provides a modest job of recruiting the glutes which we will cover the importance in the next exercise 16. During the initiation of the Bird-Dog you must draw in a large breath – I often tell my clients imagine you are gasping for air before going under water however draw your stomach inwards at the same time and release and transition into to the opposing limbs.
3. Glute Bridge
A large portion of studies involving lower back pain revolve around how do the muscles of people with lower back pain differ in function from people who not do not suffer lower back pain and what exercises are most effective in strengthen these weakened muscles. A common trend observed throughout the research involve people who do suffer from lower back pain also having weaker glutes opposed to people who do not have lower back pain 16 17. The Glute Bridge works on the premise of extending the hips which is the gluteal primary role 18. When doing the Glute Bridge exercise make sure to have your hands touching or very close to you the heels of your feet otherwise your hamstring will do most of the work which is not the point of the exercise.
4. Side Plank
For too long most people believed training the core was simply training the abs however if you view your torso from an overhead view it will be obvious that your torso (image) is an oval shape. However the vast majority of people simply train the back and/or potentially the abs leaving out the lateral section of your torso – now if the lateral aspects of your torso are weak from a biomechanical point of view you lose tension and therefore strength of your core. The Side Plank does an effective job of recruiting both the internal and external obliques 19. If the side plank is too difficult I suggest you regress to bending your knees this will make the exercise slightly easier.
5. Dead Bug
What is great about the Dead-Bug is it recruits the anterior portion of your abdominals however without placing your body into flexion. As a result of more people having office jobs and finding themselves in a flexed over seated position which produces a constant state of relaxation for the anterior abdominals. When doing the Dead-Bug make sure to have your lumbar spine to be in contact with the ground otherwise you will primarily only working your hip flexors