Regardless of who you are, you probably know someone with lower back pain.  While the causes are numerous, one of the major contributors is a weak core.  This is something I’ve learned the hard way myself.  I’ve had minor lower back pain from heavy lifting, and I watched my best friend end up with a permanent injury from a herniated disc.  Thankfully, although he can’t do some exercises, he can still fully function in everyday life because he has been training his core strength.

Keep in mind that what I’m about to say is only an exercise science perspective.  I’m not in a position to prescribe exercise for someone with a serious injury.  If you have a serious injury, call your physical therapist.  I am, however, in a position to tell you how to make your core strong so that you can prevent future or alleviate current non-specific lower back pain.

There are two major considerations when figuring out how to deal with lower back pain.  First, you need to train the core for how it is used in real life.  In real life, you typically aren’t laying on the ground.  As a result, that’s probably not how the core was designed to be used.  Your core was designed to provide stability for your arms and legs.  Think about it.  Even in something like pushing a door open, your core is activated so that your arms can push.  Then, when you want to pull the door shut, you’re using all of your upper-body pulling muscles, your lower back, and your legs.  A strong core comes from being used the way it was designed to be used in real life.  It was designed to be used in conjunction with the rest of the body.

Secondly, there should be no pain.  If a certain exercise hurts your lower back, then stop.  It’s that simple.  Find a different exercise that doesn’t hurt.  Working through pain is a horrible idea when it comes to the lower back.

What this looks like in a real exercise plan would be incorporating exercises like the following:

Standing cable push (Absolute Physical Therapy Standing Cable Press)
Standing cable pull (Absolute Physical Therapy Standing Cable Rows)
Standing cable hip rotation (Absolute Physical Therapy Standing Cable Twists)

Give those exercises a shot.  Do a couple sets of 10 to 15 repetitions on each.  If one of them hurts, use less weight or try a different exercise.  The idea is simply to use the core in conjunction with the rest of the body rather than trying to do exercise that only trains the lower back or abs.  This will result in a core that is much stronger when it comes to activities of daily living and preventing lower back pain.

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