Use this 5-minute deep core workout to relieve lower back pain while strengthening the spine.
Let’s talk core muscles. While the rectus abdominis, or “six pack”, gets most of the attention when it comes to core workouts, most people don’t know that they’re just one layer of the abdominals.
The transverse abdominals, the deepest of the ab muscles, play an important role in stabilizing your lower back. These deep core muscles act like a “corset” for the internal organs and lumbar spine. They also help to stabilize the pelvis which plays a major role in postural alignment.
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In order for your transverse abdominals to do their job, they need to be strengthened. These key exercises tap deeper into your core, to protect and stabilize your spine.
I recommend doing this quick 5-minute core workout at least once a day. Continuously working the core can give you results in no time and help relieve the constant lower back pain.
5-Minute Core Lower Back Workout
Toe Tap | 20 reps
Use this move as an easy way to target the transverse abdominals. At first, it can be a challenge to move the legs and not the pelvis, so start slowly. Once you’ve got the hang of it, you can speed it up.
- Lie on your back with your legs together, feet on the ground. Place your hands underneath your head.
- On an exhale, lift your head, shoulders, upper back, and feet off the ground. Keep your knees bent and your legs and feet touching.
- Keeping the belly in, tap your right toe to the ground. Then bring it back up to meet the left leg. Then tap the left toe on the ground.
- Alternate legs for 20 reps while breathing slow, steady breaths.
Boat Pose | 8 breaths
This exercise is not just a deep core strengthener – your hip flexors also get a workout. The hardest part is to find your balance on the tailbone. A solid tripod base is key to balancing this posture.
- Sit with your knees bent, feet on the ground, and hands underneath the thighs.
- Inhale to lengthen the spine, then exhale to bring your knees closer to the chest while your feet lift off the floor. The inner thighs, ankles, and feet should squeeze together.
- Without rounding your back, bring your shins parallel to the ground. If your back is rounding, lower the legs down to a position that allows the back to be straight.
- You can stay here, or for more of a challenge, reach your arms out in front of you. For even more of a challenge, straighten the legs up diagonally. Hold for 8 breaths.
“L” Leg Hold | 5 breaths per side
Even though you aren’t moving in this exercise, this is deep work! Your transverse abdominals are challenged to stabilize while activating your core.
- Lie on your back with your legs lifted towards the sky, hands resting on the ground alongside the body.
- Reach and lower your right leg to a couple inches off the ground. Your legs will be in the shape of an “L”.
- Inhale to get longer in the right side of the body, reaching through the right heel, then exhale to reach the arms forward off the ground. Your head and shoulders will come off the ground as well.
- Stay here for 5 breaths, lengthening with every exhale.
- Switch legs.
Note: If it’s more comfortable for you, the top leg can be bent. The leg closest to the ground needs to be long and straight. As long as there is energy in both legs, all is good.
Tabletop Knee-to-Elbow | 5 reps per side
The transverse abdominals help stabilize the spine when you move your arms and legs.
- Begin in a tabletop position, with hands stacked underneath the shoulders, knees under the hips.
- Pull your belly towards your spine, then reach the right leg back while reaching the left arm forward. Point the foot and lift the leg as high as you can. Keep both limbs long and straight.
- Inhale to reach even farther in opposite directions, then exhale to round the back, bringing your elbow to touch your knee.
- Repeat for 5 reps, then switch sides.
Note: It’s not about speed here. The slower the pace, the more control you will have – and the more strength you will build.
Double Leg Reach | 8 reps
Moving your limbs away from the core in this exercise activates your deep core muscles. Focus on hugging your belly in towards your spine instead of how far your legs can go down.
- Lie on your back with knees bent and your shins parallel to the ground. Rest your arms on the ground along the body.
- Take a slow deep inhale, then exhale to curl your head, shoulders, and upper back off the ground. Hands come to the side of your head.
- Inhale to reach your legs diagonally towards the ceiling, simultaneously reaching your arms diagonally up overhead. You will make a “V” shape with the body.
- Exhale to bend the knees towards the chest, round your back, and reach the arms forward on the outsides of the legs, arms parallel to the ground.
- Continue moving with your breath for 8 reps.
Pelvic Lift | 8 reps
This can be a challenging pose because the initiation comes from the deep core. The goal is to use little to no momentum. Smaller movements are better than forcing the hips to lift.
- Lie on your back with your hands clasped underneath your head, feet flexed, and legs lengthened up towards the ceilings.
- Inhale to lift the head and shoulders slightly off the ground. Exhale to lift the back of the pelvis and lower back off the ground.
- Keeping the head and shoulders lifted, inhale to lower the back of the pelvis back to the ground, then exhale to reach through the heels and lift the hips off the ground again.
- Continue for 8 reps.
(Your Next Workout: The 2-Minute Mobility Fix for Back Pain)