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Low back pain is “second most common ailment” in the United States which results in yearly costs of approximately $50 billion a year.  It is estimated that 85 percent of Americans will be plagued with back pain at some point in their lives. This cannot only reduce quality of life but cause physical limitations as well as emotional hardship. We often take for granted our spinal health until we have pain or an injury.

Considering the important role, the spine plays in our overall daily function, integrating exercises that create a healthy mobile spine can provide massive benefits and go a long way to helping us avoid low back pain. After all, the spine provides support for the head, neck, shoulders and pelvic girdles which are vital for movement coordination. It also protects the central nervous system, which controls every function in our body. Movement is a key element to everyday life and the spine allows functional movements in all three planes of motion.

Here are four important actions to take to improve spine health:

  1. Increase core strength
  2. Increase core flexibility
  3. Improve posture
  4. Improve body mechanics (during all aspects of life)

You have read and heard us talk about how important it is we have strong cores. The core helps protect the spine and prevent injuries. “Your core is comprised of the abdominal muscles, sides of the trunk, pelvic floor, back, buttocks, hips and pelvis, and there are 29 muscles attached to the hips, spinal column, ribs and other parts of the trunk. Core muscles act as dynamic and isometric stabilizers for movement and assist with the transfer of forces between the upper and lower body. In addition, these muscles can initiate movement itself.”

There are numerous ways to strengthen the core but sometime the KISS principle works best.  Just keep the exercises simple and you can do all of these at home. Below are 5 core-strengthening exercises for a basic routine. Intensity can be modified based on your fitness level and some equipment can be added for the advanced exercises.

  1. Glute-Bridge
  2. Front Plank
  3. Hip Rotations (push-up position)
  4. Cobra
  5. Opposite arm/leg raise

Be sure to ask us if you have any questions about any of the exercises below.  Follow appropriate guidelines related to muscular strength and endurance training when incorporating these exercises into your fitness plan.

Dominique Gummelt, PhD., Director University Health & Wellness, Andrews University