“Ow, my back!” We’ve all seen an episode (or two, or a million) of a sitcom where someone tries to pick something up, throws out their back, and spends the rest of the episode trying to pretend they didn’t hurt themselves and being unable to do the simplest of tasks. It might be overplayed on TV, but in my opinion it’s pretty consistent with reality–the single biggest cause of disability today is back pain and it costs Americans an estimated $50 billion a year in healthcare costs. If you don’t suffer from it, someone you know definitely does. So what can we do to fix this epidemic?
In order to know how to manage back pain, we first have to figure out what is causing it. Now, BIG disclaimer here: I’m not a doctor and I obviously can’t diagnose any health issues through the internet. If you have any health problems that you are concerned about, you should always go to your doctor first and get checked out to make sure nothing major is going on.
That being said, it may surprise you to find out that lower back pain is often the result of weak abs and a weak butt. That’s right, skipping planks and leg day is giving you that terrible stiff feeling after a long day at work. Thankfully, that means we can work on fixing it! Here are the top 3 exercises I would recommend to work on strengthening glutes and abs to relieve some stress on the lower back.
To start, lay on your side with your knees bent. Your feet should be in line with your hips. Keeping your feet together, lift your top knee, being careful not to roll your body back. Slowly lower your knee until you are back at your starting position.
Lying on your back, bend your knees and plant your feet hip width apart. Slowly lift your hips, squeezing your glutes and driving the hips to create a straight line with your body. Be aware of your neck and shoulders on this one–it can be easy to tense up in the upper body, but you want to stay relaxed and let your glutes and legs do all the work.
Lying on your side, position your elbow underneath your shoulder. Driving up with the hips, lift your side off the ground and hold.
I would recommend doing 3 rounds of these exercises, 30 seconds per move in each round. Follow through 3 times a week and you should be well on your way to stronger glutes, a stronger core, and less pain in your back!