Core Floor Exercises

This is our second in our series of exercises that you can do at home to recover from a lower back injury, relieve lower back pain, and improve your lower back and core strength.

In our first blog post, we explained the different types of lower back pain, injuries, and conditions that cause lower back pain and sciatica.  The exercises we are going to teach you today are the next step to relieve pain in your lower back and improve your core strength.

Before starting these exercises, you should have completed our beginner series of lower back exercises. You should be able to do 25 reps and 3 sets of each exercise without pain. This is the starting point for people who just injured their lower back or are wanting to strengthen their back from the ground up.

When you can do these exercises proficiently, you will be on your way to living life pain free and get back to doing things that currently hurt your lower back.

As with any exercise program, if you are unsure about your health or ability to do these exercises, check with your physician.

These exercises increase your core strength by requiring you to hold the positions for time.  Start with 30 seconds and try to do 1-5 reps. As you get stronger, you can increase the hold times to 1-2 minutes and work up to 5 sets.

Try to use diaphragmatic breathing during these exercises. The diaphragm is a muscle and part of your core.  Start by breathing in through the nose for a 4 count, then exhaling through the nose for the same 4 count while you hold the position. Breathing this way will help you strengthen and connect to your diaphragm. Discontinue any exercise that causes increased pain.

Cobra

Cobra

Start by lying on your stomach with your palms facing the floor and elbows bent by your side. Raise up your head and then trunk incrementally. Allow your arms to assist in lifting as needed. Hold this position for 30-60 seconds, then lower back down and repeat 1-5 times.

Slow, deep Diaphragmatic breathing the entire time.

Superman

Superman

Start in the prone position with arms stretched above your head. Lift both legs and arms from the mat, keeping the pelvis in contact with the floor. Hold for 30-60 seconds maintaining arm and leg lift. Repeat 1-5 times, Diaphragmatic breathing

Variation

Superman Variation

Start in superman position and lift opposite arm and leg from the floor.  Alternate opposite arm and leg lifts for 30-60 seconds. Repeat 1-5 times. Diaphragmatic breathing

Planks

Planks

Start with your elbows in and hands flat on the floor with your toes tucked and push up into the plank position. Try to keep your core tight with a neutral pelvic tilt as you keep your head, shoulders, and hips in the same straight alignment.  Hold for 30-60 seconds using diaphragmatic breathing. Repeat 1-5 times.

Shoulder Touches Variation

Shoulder Touches Variation

Begin in the plank position with wrists under shoulders and feet hip-width apart.  Touch your left shoulder with your right hand and return to the plank position. Alternate and repeat on the opposite side.  Do this for 30-60 seconds in control with diaphragmatic breathing. Repeat 1-5 times.

Forearm Plank Variation

Forearm Plank Variation

While lying face down, lift your body up on your forearms and toes. Try and maintain a straight spine. Bring your knee to your elbow. Alternate and repeat on the opposite side. Do not allow your hips or pelvis on either side to drop. Do this for 30-60 seconds in control with diaphragmatic breathing. Repeat 1-5 times.

Side Plank

Side Plank

To do the side plank you must maintain hip/knee/shoulder alignment (everything on a straight plane) as you come up into a side plank, lifting your top arm towards the ceiling.  Do this for 30-60 seconds in control with diaphragmatic breathing. Repeat 1-5 times.

Your bottom arm can be bent on forearm, or with a straight arm (shown). If 2 straight legs are too difficult, you can bend the bottom knee and keep it on the ground to support yourself that way!

Variation 1 – Torso rotation

Variation 1 – Torso rotation

Start in the side plank and then take that top arm and slowly bring it around your body and under your chest and lift back up. Do this for 30-60 seconds in control with diaphragmatic breathing. Repeat 1-5 times.

Variation 2 – Leg lift

Variation 2 – Leg lift

Maintain hip/knee/shoulder alignment (everything on a straight plane) as you come up into a side plank, lifting your top arm towards the ceiling. Then slowly raise your top leg until it is horizontal to the floor. Hold this position for 30-60 seconds in control with diaphragmatic breathing. Repeat 1-5 times.