Your Back Pain Prescription
If you don’t have back pain now, just wait – chances are you will. Unless, of course, you learn to love these four moves. Stuart McGill, Ph.D., the author of Back Mechanic, says they can boost core strength and endurance, reduce pain, and prevent injury.
Perform the four moves daily. For the bird dog, curl-up, and side plank: DIRECTIONS do 6 reps (per side, if applicable), rest 30 seconds, then 4 reps, rest 30 seconds, then 2 reps. Then move on to the next exercise. End by doing 1 squat with good form.
Side Plank Lie on the floor on your left side. Prop yourself up on your left elbow and feet. Your top foot should be on the floor directly forward of your bottom foot. Place your right hand on your left shoulder, and make sure your hips are pushed forward throughout. Hold the position for 10 seconds; then lower your hips. That’s 1 rep. Do all your reps and repeat on your other side.
Squat Stand tall with your arms outstretched. Push your hips back, bend your knees, and lower your torso. Keep your back straight throughout the descent. Now relax and sink into the bottom of the squat for a few seconds. Begin building tension in your back to straighten it, and then push back up.
Bird Dog Get on your hands and knees, with your hips and knees bent 90 degrees. Lift your right leg and left hand; keep your raised foot and heel pointing back and away directly behind you, and your raised hand directly in front of you. Both limbs should be perfectly parallel and aligned with your torso. Hold the position for 10 seconds; then return to the starting position. Do all your reps, and repeat with your left leg and right hand.
Curl-up Lie on your back. Bend one knee so your foot is flat on the floor, and place your hands (palms down) beneath your lower back. Raise your elbows slightly, and brace your core. Lift your head, neck, and shoulders simultaneously an inch or two off the floor. Hold the position for 10 seconds; then lower. That’s 1 rep. Do half your reps, switch legs, and do the rest.