Building Core Strength to Reduce Back Pain

The Importance of Strong Abdominal Muscles

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Core Strengthening Exercises for Back Pain

Below are some examples of common abdominal exercises that can help you develop strong abs and prevent back pain.

These exercises and the number of repetitions are just suggestions. Talk to your doctor before incorporating these exercises into your exercise routine, and remember to listen to your body. If something doesn't feel right, stop immediately.

Elbow Plank

  • Lie down on your stomach with your body in a straight line. Your elbows should be at a 90-degree angle and close to the sides of your body. Rest your forearms on the floor and interlace your fingers.
  • Gently push your body up using your forearms. Don't' let your back drop: Keep your body in a straight line.
  • Engage your core muscles during the entire movement.
  • Hold this position for 30 seconds, release, and repeat 3 times. Do this move once a day.

woman performing an elbow plank to build core musclesA woman performs an exercise called an elbow plank to help build her core abdominal muscles. Photo Source:

Abdominal Crunches

  • Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor, about hip-distance apart.
  • Interlace your fingers and place both of your hands behind your head with your elbows wide. Inhale and then as you exhale, use the strength of your abdominal muscles—not your neck muscles—to slowly raise your head, neck, and upper back off the floor.
  • Inhale as you slowly lower your upper body to the floor, and repeat.
  • Do 3 sets of 10 abdominal crunches every day.
  • Watch a video on how to do abdominal crunches.


  • Lie down on your stomach so that your body is in a straight line.
  • Place your hands on the floor so that they're a little higher than your shoulders. The position of your hands should also be wider than your shoulders. At the same time, lift your body so that you're balancing on your hand and toes.
  • Keeping a straight back, lower your body to the floor by slowly bending your elbows until they're at 90 degrees. Push back up using the strength of your arms, upper back, and chest muscles, and repeat.
  • Do 3 sets of 10 push-ups every day. As your body becomes stronger, you can do more repetitions.

By doing these and other core exercises every day, you'll notice that your core strength leads to overall body strength.

In addition, there are certain types of exercise that can help you develop core strength, such as yoga  and Pilates.

It's also a good idea to work with a physical therapist. He or she can develop a specific exercise plan that involves core strengthening exercises and flexibility exercises to keep your spine healthy and help you maintain good posture.

Talk With Your Doctor

Have a conversation with your doctor as well. Your doctor will let you know if there are any exercises you should avoid or that may increase your back pain. As with any exercise, if you experience increased pain while doing core strengthening exercises, stop and call your doctor or physical therapist immediately.

Updated on: 09/17/19
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