Don’t just sit there—try these moves to heal and support the muscles along your spine.
Never loved sit- ups? Hallelujah—you can skip them: The University of Waterloo’s Stuart McGill has found that the repeated flexing motion can cause spinal disks to bulge and press painfully on nerves. He suggests these three safe, easy exercises instead. One rep equals one 10- second hold.
THE CURL- UP
Lie on the floor, with one knee bent and the other extended. Nestle your palms beneath your lower back. Brace your abs, then lift your head, neck, and shoulders slightly off the ground (about an inch). Do five reps, then three, then one on each side, resting in between.
THE SIDE BRIDGE
Lie on your left side, with your left elbow under you and your knees bent. Slowly lift up into a modified plank pose. Do up to six reps per side, then four, then two, then one, resting between sides. For a challenge, move into a full side plank with the top foot in front (not stacked) and your arm and legs extended.
THE BIRD DOG
Get on all fours. Raise one arm and the opposite leg. Do four reps per side, then three, two, and one. For a challenge, draw squares: Move your raised hand and foot away from the midline, down toward the floor, back to the midline, then back up.