You probably have been told many times over that strengthening your core will help you alleviate hip and back pain. While the root cause of back pain, may not be entirely due to a weak core, it’s always a good idea to work on strengthening it every day considering the important role it plays in helping you avoid injury, and move properly.
The core consists of an inner, and an outer unit. These units are always working together to enable us to accomplish from simple daily tasks to more advanced athletic performance.
The inner core is the spine “Safety belt”. It stabilizes your spine, pelvis, and hip joints.
The inner core muscles that are responsible to provide spine stability are:
- Transverse abdominis: a deep abdominal muscle that acts as a belt around your waist, protecting your spine. Picking an item off the floor without properly activating this muscle, will overload the lower back and pelvis which can lead to injury.
- Other important stabilizers connected to the pelvis: i.e. multifidus.
Our goal is to strengthen these deep core muscle so that they are instantly activated every time we want to perform a task.
The outer core consists of primer movers: the visible abs, the obliques, the rectus abdominis, the shoulder girdle, and the rest of your body. As you can tell, the core is not just the visible abs we see, but an integration of many systems.
We often over-train the visible primer muscles to achieve that “aesthetic look”, and ignore the deep abdominal muscles that are super important in maintaining a healthy functional body. One that is composed of “intelligent” aesthetic muscles, and a strong foundation.
PS: if you have no clue how to strengthen these deep core muscles. Check out my deep core mini-training. In 20 minutes you’ll have all the info you need with exercises to activate these muscles (with a weekly exercise planner).
In general, deep abdominal exercises look easy; but believe me, they are very challenging. You may not feel the “burn” that you get when you do 50 crunches, but you will notice how challenging it is for your body to do them properly. Because, we are not used to using the deeper core muscles, the back and hip flexors have a tendency to compensate for a week inner core.
This is why I advise you to always keep your back GLUED to the floor when you are doing any inner core exercises on your back.
How to work your deep core with back pain
Many (traditional) core exercises are too focused on spinal flexion (i.e. sit-ups, crunches). These exercises may be good to add more definition to the visible abs, but they offer no benefits to someone who is more interested in developing a strong functional core. So (Ahem) you do want to avoid them as much as you can.
Moreover, if you are suffering from any pain injury (disc related), you want to avoid any exercises that may contribute to more damage. For example, if you have an anterior disc herniation (the front side of the intervertebral disc, towards the body), you may notice pain when you do hyperextension exercises. Likewise, if you have a posterior disc herniation (towards the back of the body), you’d experience pain when bending over, and doing the typical abs flexion exercises
To keep things balanced, I like to simply avoid all exercises that promote flexion: CRUNCHES (this is why I’m introducing you to some pretty cool no crunch core exercises today).
I also keep the hyperextension exercises to a minimum, but I still perform few lower impact movements such as swimmers, supermans and cobra pose; since we spend a big part of our days hunched over, and exercises like the cobra can help restore the posture.Checkout these no crunch, deep abdominal core exercises! #fitness #workouts #backpainClick To Tweet
PS: want more like this workout, check out back pain bootcamp! Workout with me for 6 weeks!
No crunch core exercises
In this video, I’ll be introducing you to some of my favorite inner core exercises. Again, none of these exercises include crunches.
Here are a few things to keep in mind as you try them.
- Keep your back glued to your mat when you are on your back. If you arch your back, that means you are starting to compensate, and using your low back instead of your core. You should take a break, breathe and try to do it again with proper form.
- You can start with 10-15 repetitions for each exercise, and as you gain more strength, bump those reps up to 15, or do 2 sets of 10-15 reps.
- Take from 30-60 seconds break between each exercise. Our goal is to strengthen our inner goal, not to build abs. (for now!)
No crunch core exercises:
- Single-leg extensions.
- Dynamic toe-taps.
- Plank knee to elbow (advanced).
- Double leg lower and lift (very important to have your back touching the floor all the time. Take as much rest as you want, but make sure you are performing each repetition properly).
- Bird dog: Make sure you are not rotating your hips.
- Plank shoulder taps (Focus on maintaining a solid plank position without dropping your hips or lifting your glutes up).
- Plank knee taps
I hope you give this workout a try! if you are looking for a low impact strengthening workout plan that takes care of not only building your strength, but also building a strong core foundation, checkout the back pain Bootcamp!
Also, I always love hearing back from you. If there is anything you want to see on the blog, leave me a comment below!