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Increase Your Core, Decrease Your Pain

Anyone who has ever suffered from back pain will tell you they’ll try ANYTHING to get back to feeling normal again. Drugs, lotions, hanging upside down by their ankles, you name it. For some reason, what many people don’t try is preventative care.

Research has shown  that increasing our core stability (meaning the muscles in our midsection) is one of the greatest tools one can use to both treat and prevent low back pain. I can hear the groaning now, “Exercise?! I don’t like going to the gym. I don’t have any equipment. I don’t have enough time in the day.” What if you didn’t need a gym membership, no equipment was necessary, and you only needed the time it takes to make your morning coffee?

Dr.Stuart McGill, professor of spine biomechanics at Waterloo University has come up with three exercises dubbed the “McGill 3” that are the  key exercises for back pain prevention and treatment. Give them a try. All you have to lose is your pain.

1) CRUNCH
Lie on back with knees bent, feet flat on the floor, hands resting behind head. Suck stomach in and curl body to lift shoulder blades off floor. Maintain abdominal hollow as you lower slowly back down .Keep neck in neutral, elbows back, do not pull on head. If having difficulty maintaining neutral neck position, exercise can be performed with hands on chest. Stop if the exercise causes pain.  Repeat 15 times, 2 sets.

2) SIDE BRIDGE
Lie on one side with knees bent, weight supported by elbow/forearm which rests directly below the shoulder. Knees, hips and shoulders are in line. Raise hip off floor, moving spine from side flexed to neutral alignment. Maintain abdominal hollow. Avoid rotating backwards or forwards. Hold position for 3 relaxed breaths, slowly lower and repeat. Stop the exercise if it causes pain. (Modify with weight supported on bent knees) Repeat 15 times, 2 sets.

3) BIRD DOG
On hands and knees, keep back flat and maintain an abdominal hollow. Slowly extend one leg behind while at the same time reaching opposite arm in front until parallel with floor. Keep trunk stable, avoid twisting. Hold for 3 relaxed breaths, slowly return to start position, repeat. Stop if the exercise causes pain. Repeat 15 times, 2 sets.

Do each of the exercises as prescribed every other day.

For pictures and printable instructions click here: McGill 3