Stories from Fitness Tips

The Biggest Mistake You’re Making in Your Core Workouts Might Be the Culprit Behind Your Back Pain

Kells McPhillips

Kells McPhillipsMay 11, 2020

Thumbnail for The Biggest Mistake You’re Making in Your Core Workouts Might Be the Culprit Behind Your Back Pain
Pin It
Photo: Getty Images/jacoblund

When we talk about “core work,” we’re usually hyper-focused on the abdomen. By definition, though, the core includes muscles that extend up and down your torso—including the ones in your back. When you don’t give those muscles the same strength training attention as the ones around your belly button, you may experience lower back pain, says trainer Tatiana Lampa, NASM.

“We always have to work our body as a balanced system,” says Lampa. “If we focus on one muscle over the others too often, we’ll have one side that’s way stronger than the other which can lead to possible injuries.” In this case, if you’re dedicating all your workouts to moves like the classic crunch, the movement only hits the front side of your body—and your back takes the fall for it. This rings especially true if you’re arching your back during those front-facing core workouts rather than scooping in your tailbone. “So, yes, it is true that if you work too much on your front, and neglect working your back, glutes, or basically your entire posterior chain then you will experience pain over time,” says Lampa. “I like to look at like: You should work on your posterior chain and anterior chain equally.” 

Because anterior core workouts remain the most widely taught and circulated, you probably have a few on your resume already (think: Romanian twists, leg raises, and shoulder taps). To make your core workout ratio a little more 50/50 between abs and back, Lampa’s walking you through her go-to posterior moves. When you’re done, your whole core (that’s 360 degrees) will be on fire.

5 core exercises for back pain that make your whole torso way stronger

1. Supermans (For your glutes and the muscles along your spine

  1. Lie down on your stomach.
  2. Extend your arms straight out in front of you or along your sides with palms facing down.
  3. On an inhale, use your core to lift your head, neck, chest, arms, and legs off the ground. Release on an exhale.
  4. Repeat 15 to 20 times.

2. Deadlifts (for your entire posterior chain: hamstring, glute, lats, traps, and more)

  1. With or without barbells, bring your feet hips-width distance apart, keeping your toes straight forward.
  2. If you are using dumbbells, grip one in each hand or grip a heaver one between both hands.
  3. Bend your knees forward, letting your butt go back while keeping your spine neutral. Your thighs should be just above your knees.
  4. Touch the weights down to the floor.
  5. As you come back up, straighten through the trunk, engaging the core and tucking your pelvis under.
  6. Repeat 10 to 15 times.

3. Bridges (for your hammies, glutes, and back)

  1. Lie down on your back. Bend your knees so that your feet are hip-width distance and not too far in front of you.
  2. Press through your feet and use the strength of your core and glutes to lift up into the air.
  3. Slowly come back down to the ground, keeping your butt flat.
  4. Repeat 10 to 15 times

4. Single-leg bridges (for your hamstrings glutes, and back)

  1. Lie down on your back. Bend your knees so that your feet are hip-width distance and not too far in front of you.
  2. Lift your left leg into the air (bent or straight). Press through your right foot and use the strength of your core and glutes to lift it up into the air.
  3. Slowly come back down to the ground, keeping your butt flat. Return your left foot the ground. r
  4. Repeat 10 to 15 times on both sides.

5. good mornings (for your glutes and back)

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and toes pointed straight ahead.
  2. Squat down and stand straight back up.
  3. Keeping your shoulders pulled back, core tight, and knees slightly bent, slowly push your hips back as you bend forward into a nearly 90-degree angle. Once you reach the top, squeeze your butt.
  4. Repeart 10 to 15 times.

This 8-minute workout hits your core and your back:

Loading More Posts...