Experiencing lower back pain or the effects of bad posture can be beyond uncomfortable. Understanding your core muscles, and taking up a few simple core exercises regularly can help improve or eliminate that pain–whenever they’re done correctly. Here’s what you need to know about back pain, and where to start.

What are the different ab muscles?

The rectus abdominis is what most people imagine when they think of a core: it’s what makes you look like you have a six pack, as you get your outer layer of abdominal muscles in shape.

The oblique muscles are the side-ab muscles. They’re what help you with rotating your spine side-to-side or bending sideways.

The transverse abdominis muscles are the core of, well, your core. They are the deepest layer of abdominal muscle, and strengthening this muscle adds to a greater sense of stability throughout your body.

The Transverse Abdominis is Pretty Important In Back Pain

Tuck your tailbone forward, and tighten your belly button into itself. Do you feel your spine straightening? That’s thanks to the transverse abdominis muscles, or your inner core.

Although the transverse abdominis is larger in the front of your body than the back, it really is the primary muscle in your torso. It’s essential in developing better posture, stabilizing your back, and preventing or treating back injuries.

Strengthen Your Inner Core Through Simple Exercises to Avoid Back Pain

The more you target the transverse abdominis, the better off your whole body will be in exercise, in posture, and in general strength and range of motion.

An exercise is the most beneficial if you’re engaging the muscle group in the proper manner. With your core, it can mean the difference between strength training and injury.

Consider the aforementioned instructions: tuck your tailbone and tighten your belly button. That’s not just a tip for posture, but a lesson on the right way to engage your core as you exercise it. Keep that in mind as you try the following core strengthening moves.

Bird Dog

Start on your hands and knees. Engage your core, and keep your back flat. Don’t tuck your butt up in the air or slump your shoulders.

Then, reach your right arm forward. At the same time, straighten your left leg behind you while flexing your foot. Keep both arm and leg straight and parallel to your body.

Hold this for 3-10 seconds.

Return to the original position. Feel free to alternate arms and legs in repetition.

Recommended: 3 reps each, of 5 slow seconds each side.

Pelvic Tilt

If balance is not your strong suit, then this move is for you. It’s simple, but its effects can be significant.

Start by laying flat on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground.

You may notice that your body’s natural posture in this state leaves a gap between your lower back and the floor.

Pull your bellybutton towards your back, while letting your lower back flatten against the floor.

Recommended: 20 Reps, holding each for 5 seconds.

Plank

This is the classic move for core strength, but make sure to keep in mind how to engage your core properly as you do it to reap the benefits.

You can choose between being on hands and knees or elbows and knees, according to your strength.

Get up onto your toes, keep your back straight, and engage your core. Keep your arms shoulder-width apart as you rest in this position.

Recommended: 10 Reps, holding each for 15-20 seconds.

What if These Routines Are Too Painful or Difficult With Back Pain?

If you find these simple exercises particularly uncomfortable, it could mean that there’s more to your body’s needs than meets the eye, such as a herniated disc or the need for a back brace. It could be time to make an appointment with a physical therapist.

If you or someone you know is experiencing persistent lower back pain, whether it’s during daily life or exercise, then call (570)-208-2787 to make an appointment with the team at Cawley Physical Therapy and Rehab.