Best Core Exercises For The Back

By: Mariah True, PTA

There are several good core stabilization exercises to perform that are beneficial for strengthening of the low back. Transversus abdominis exercises stabilize the spine and low back which helps protect your spine and strengthen your back muscles.

Great Core Exercises Include:

  • TrA Clams
  • Lower trunk rotation
  • Bridges
  • Bird dogs
  • Dead bugs 

Best Core Exercises to Strengthen The Back

1. Transversus abdominal contraction (TrA contraction) – Lie on your back with both knees bent, keep your feet hip-width apart, and planted on the ground. Bring your belly button to your spine and contract abdominal muscles, KEEP BREATHING, and hold the contraction for a couple of seconds, then release and repeat.

Man lying on a mat table with hands feeling for his transverse abdominals with knee bent.Transverse abdominal supine

2. Transversus abdominal contraction with clams (TrA clams) – Perform the same movement as described for TrA contraction. But instead of keeping your feet planted on the ground, let one knee fall out while maintaining contraction and lower back to the ground. Reciprocate movement on the opposite leg, perform at least 10 on each leg.

Man on a mat table with knees bent and one falling out while doing transverse abdominal contractions. Transverse Abdominal with Clams Supine

3. Lower Trunk Rotation (LTR) – Lie on your back with both knees bent, feet hip-width apart, and planted on the ground. Slowly rotate both knees to one side, hold for 3-5 seconds, and then rotate to the other side.

Woman lying on mat table with knee bent and rotated together to the right to do a lower trunk rotationLower Trunk Rotations

4. Bridges – Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet hip-width apart, push through your feet and lift your buttocks off the ground. Keep your spine straight/flat and squeeze your gluteal muscles at the top of your bridge. Slowly lower your buttocks to the ground and repeat.

Woman on a mat table doing a bridge exercise with buttocks off the tableBridges
5. Bird Dogs – Position yourself on your hands and knees on the ground, your shoulders and feet should be hip-width apart. Keep your spine flat, head down, then slowly point one arm directly in front of you while doing the same movement with your opposite leg. Make sure you are engaging your abdominal muscles and not letting your hips drop to one side. Hold this position for a couple of seconds, then reciprocate on the opposite side.

Woman on hands and knees with right arm and left leg extended in the air to do a Bird DogBird Dogs

6. Dead Bugs – Lie on your back, maintain a posterior pelvic tilt, and bend both your knees to 90 degrees so your legs are parallel with the floor. Contract your core, straighten one leg and the opposite arm so both extremities are straight and slightly above the floor. Make sure your back stays flat and reciprocate that movement on the other side.

Man lying on his back with knees bent and the left leg lifted while the Right arm is elevated to do a dead bug.Dead Bugs

Does Strengthening Your Core Help Your Back?

Performing a good transverse abdominal contraction can help you properly engage the Multifidus and pelvic floor – the deepest spinal stabilizers, which helps protect your back. The deep core muscles support your low back and assist in decreasing pain by activating the anatomical girdle. Your core muscles are not only protecting and supporting your low back, but they also work by taking stress off of your joints and spinal discs.

How Can I Strengthen My Core Without Hurting My Back?

You can strengthen your core without hurting or straining your back by correctly performing any of the exercises listed above. Extension-based exercises, such as bird dogs, and movements that involve tightening your core are preferred to improve posture while maintaining a neutral spine. These are often helpful exercises if you have low back pain as well.

If you have back problems, the Jacksonville Orthopaedic Institute can help. Call(904)JOI-2000, schedule online, or click the link below.  To schedule an appointment with 1 of our 12 JOI Rehab Offices, call (904)858-7045.

Skip to content