Core Strengthening

Estimates demonstrate, lower back pain affects up to 80% of the general population at one time or another. There are many treatment options to assist with back pain recovery, however, prevention is the key. Aside from avoiding accidents and improper lifting techniques, a well trained “core” may help prevent injury. Your “core” includes all the muscles that surround the torso. We want these muscles to have excellent endurance, so they can absorb the daily forces we apply to the back tissues, preventing injury. With as little as a 10 minutes investment into your daily routine, you can look forward to a few thousand hours of pain-free living!

Core Exercises

I recommend performing these exercises daily for the next month. Each exercise should be performed to fatigue (when the muscle starts to shake and burn, do 5 more repetitions). Be sure not to hold your breath during any of the exercises.

Note: if you are currently under care for a spinal condition, please check with your physician before attempting these exercises, as this is intended for general strengthening.

Bridge – Lie on your back with your knees bent, tighten your stomach and raise your hips off the floor about 3 inches. Hold for a 2 second count and slowly lower to the floor and relax. Repeat to fatigue.

Basic Crunch – Lie on your back with your knees bent and your hands on your thighs, tighten your stomach and raise your upper body until your shoulderblades lift off the floor. Hold for 2 seconds and then slowly lower to the floor. Repeat to fatigue.

Advanced Straight Leg Raise – Lie on your back with one leg bent to your chest, tighten your stomach, then raise the opposite leg about 6 inches from the floor. Lower to the ground and alternate to the other leg. Repeat to fatigue.

Bridge-Heel Walk – this exercise is very similar to the bridge, except you will start with your legs only slightly bent, raise your buttock off the floor and take tiny slow steps toward the buttock and then back out to the starting point. Repeat until fatigue.

Deadbug – Lie flat on your back with arms and legs (bent knees) extended into the air. Slowly move arms/legs back and forth (like climbing a ladder). Be sure to rest your head on the floor so not to strain your neck muscles. Continue for a few minutes to fatigue (few minutes).

Modified Sideplank – Side lying, with your torso in a straight line, and knees bent with bottom forearm on the floor, use your core muscles to raise your hips off the floor. Hold for 2 seconds, then slowly lower to the floor. Repeat for each side to fatigue.

Quadriped – Alternating Leg Extension-positioned on your hands and knees, brace your stomach and raise one leg off the floor. Hold for 2 seconds and lower slowly. Then repeat to the other side and repeat to fatigue.

Special thanks to personal trainer, Brandon Franklin, for demonstrating our exercises.

— Todd R. Custer, D.C., A.T.

Dr. Custer is a doctor of chiropractic and an athletic trainer. He has been rehabilitating injured athletes at the high school, collegiate, and professional levels (Philadelphia Eagles Football Club) since 1994.

Dr. Custer graduated from Texas Chiropractic College summa cum laude, and is currently treating patients at Better Care Chiropractic of Texas.

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