How to Avoid Lower Back Pain When Strengthening Your Core

Our core is the body's foundation, made up of the Transverse Abdominis, Internal Obliques, Pelvic Floor Muscles, Diaphragm, Transverspinalis and Lumbar Multifidus. Core exercises train the muscles in all of these areas to work in harmony, which can lead to improved balance and stability. Brilliant for those who live an active lifestyle, in fact, brilliant for all of us. 

You can work your core muscles in almost any direction and this is part of the problem. If you experience lower back pain from core exercises you do whilst lying down, there’s probably an issue with your form. 

Soreness in your lumbar spine, or the vertebrae of your lower back, is extremely common with ab-focused moves like the leg lower exercise, flutter kicks, and scissor kicks. All of these involve lying down on your back and moving your legs without them touching the ground. While they’re considered productive, ab-strengthening exercises, many people make this all-too-common mistake time and time again: arching the lower back during the move.

The most common mistake is not pinning your lower back to the floor. When your lower back isn’t pushed into the ground you do not fully engage the core, over time this can lead to prolonged stress on your lower back. The human body is a wonderful thing and as such will let you know when this is happening as you will feel more of an uncomfortable pain in your lower back than that gratifying soreness in your abs, post workout.

When ab exercises are performed correctly, you’ll benefit from a stronger core. With proper form, movements like Sicssor Kicks, Leg Lifts and V-Sits are brilliant at hitting the lower abs. When your back isn’t firmly pushed into the floor throughout your workout, the exercise becomes redundant doing nothing for your abs, worse still, you could hurt your spine muscles. It’s all about form and how engaged your core is.

To perform Leg Lifts correctly, firstly lay on your mat with your legs straight in the air. As you draw your back to the floor, engage your abs. Now slowly lower one leg at a time without touching the ground, alternatively you can use both legs at the same time, it’s up to you. 

If you need extra support you can place your hands together to form a small triangle, thumbs and forefingers touching beneath your lower back as you do the exercise. Alternatively place a towel underneath your lower back in line with your belly button. Tuck your hips and pull your belly button into your spine so the towel doesn’t move. As soon as the towel begins to slip, you’ll know you’ve gone low enough.


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