Low back and core stabilization

Low back pain is the most common musculoskeletal diagnoses and cause of activity limitation and work absence in the U.S. Here are 3 exercises (with variation) that may help reduce your risk of injuring your lower back.

Bird Dog: This exercise requires a lot of balance and core strength, improving trunk and back muscles.
Start with just an arm raise and then progress to leg lift. Once those movements become easy, alternate arm/leg (as shown below).

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Dead Bug: This exercise (with variations for increased progression) assist with activation of spinal stabilizers. With all variations of dead bug, the spine and pelvis are in a neutral position with the abdominals braced.

The first version consists of pushing your lumbar spine into the ground, bringing your arms and legs straight up into the air, and holding that position. Start with 10 seconds and increase up to 30 seconds.

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Once the first version of dead bug becomes too easy, you can progress the exercise by alternating arm and leg extension (as shown below). Continue to focus on your spine and pelvis in a neutral position with the abdominals braced.

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The final progression is using a loop band (placed around your feet).

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Bend your knees 90 degrees and bring your arms straight up. Alternating arm and leg extension (as shown below), focusing on your spine and pelvis in a neutral position with the abdominals braced.

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Plank pull down: Start in a high plank position holding the end of a band in each hand with the band stabilized/anchored in the middle. Focus on your spine and pelvis in a neutral position with the abdominals braced. While stabilizing on a single arm, pull the band in the opposite arm back (into the position of your front pocket). Alternate arms and repeat 5-10 times each arm.

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