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Core exercises for low back pain

Compression of the lumbar discs can lead to a wide variety of back conditions. Compression can arise from long periods of sitting with poor posture and weak muscle support. Our lower back yoga class builds support while decompressing the discs. No single practice sequence will benefit all conditions, but this approach has been very effective at our center for all disc-related conditions, sciatica and lordosis.

Abdominal strengthening

We strengthen the abdominals by using them to stabilise the lumbar vertebrae against the floor. The floor provides a tactile reference point to note if one is arching the lower back and possibly compressing the discs when lifting or lowering the legs.

Core strengthener 1

Abdominal strengthening exercise

Abdominal strengthening exercise

Abdominal strengthening exercise

In the above practice, one engages the abdominals to maintain the lower back down as one draws the knees to the chest then returns the feet to the floor. Stabilising the lumbar vertebrae here is what strengthens the abdominal muscles and is of more interest than the actual movement of the legs. In case of lordosis, where there is an excessive arch, one’s feet will likely not reach the floor without arching the back, so one simply moves back and forth within a range that works the abdominals while maintaining the lower back as flat as possible.

Core strengthener 2

Abdominal strengthening exercise 2

In the above practice, the movement of the leg away from the trunk risks bringing the lumbar vertebrae into an overarched, compressed position. By maintaining the lower back flat during the outward movement of the leg, one engages the abdominal muscles while stabilising the lumbar vertebrae.

For those with a large arch, as with lordosis, it will be extremely difficult to maintain the back completely flat. However, one can vary the angle of the extended leg. Extending the leg more vertically allows one to maintain the lower back stabilised on the floor while still engaging the abdominals. In addition, one can regulate whether the leg is extended completely or only slightly (as shown).

Please note that a natural arch in the lower back is healthy and important. While drawing the abdomen in may have the temporary effect of flattening out the natural arch, our goal is not to get rid of the arch nor to live with our abdomen drawn in. Drawing the abdomen in has benefits when one wishes to stabilise the lumbar vertebrae and decompress the discs during certain exercises.


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