The 12 Most Effective Core Strengthening Exercises for Lower Back Pain

Core strength is a crucial component of the lower back pain puzzle. Strengthening the core muscles is something that we can all add into our workouts to help prevent lower back pain.

8 min read
Sean's profile
Written by
Sean Klein
Published on
16/03/22
Last updated
10/10/22
In This Resource
  • Benefits Of Core Exercises For The Lower Back
  • 1. Prevents Lower Back Pain
  • 2. Adds Movement Into Your Routine
  • How Do You Strengthen Your Lower Back and Core Muscles?
  • 1. Core Sessions Or Within Full Body Strength Training
  • 2. Using A Variety Of Movement Patterns
  • 3. Exercise Selection
  • 4. Use Progressive Overload
  • 5. Use A Variety Of Methods
  • Beginner Core Strengthening Session for Lower Back Pain
  • Advanced Core Strengthening Session for Lower Back Pain
  • More Exercises to Help Ease Lower Back Pain
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Will Strengthening My Core Help My Lower Back Pain?
  • Does A Weak Core Cause Pain In The Lower Back?
  • Recourses
  • Core Strengthening Exercises for Lower Back For Seniors and Physiotherapy Exercises For Lower Back and Spine
  • References

Back pain can take a heavy toll on an individual. Thankfully developing strong core musculature is the best predictor of preventing back pain. That’s why we have created this guide, to give you the tools to develop your core and help you prevent and relieve your back pain. Let’s have a look at the exercises you can use, along with the methodology behind the selection of these exercises and finally a core workout you can try today.

Benefits Of Core Exercises For The Lower Back

1. Prevents Lower Back Pain

Having a strong lower back and core musculature is proven to be one of the best ways to prevent lower back pain(1). As our lifestyles become more and more sedentary, it’s crucial to find methods that allow you to stay fit, healthy and pain free. One of the most effective ways to help back pain is rather counter intuitive, and thats to develop a strong core.

Back pain is a very much debated topic in the health and fitness industry but one thing is for sure, building your core musculature can only be good for your lower back pain (if done appropriately and according to your current abilities).

2. Adds Movement Into Your Routine

Not only will core work build your core musculature, but it will also create some movement practice into your week. Movement is the strongest anti-dote to lower back pain, so this style of core work is extremely effective at helping people with lower back pain.

How Do You Strengthen Your Lower Back and Core Muscles?

1. Core Sessions Or Within Full Body Strength Training

Developing a strong core can be done in conjunction with full body resistance training or by itself. If you have time to do 2-3 full body resistance training sessions with core work integrated into your sessions, its certain you’ll be able to see great results and hopefully ease your back pain slightly.

2. Using A Variety Of Movement Patterns

Whether you do your core work within a full body resistance session or as a stand alone work out it should be developed through targeting four movement patterns.

  • Anti-extension
  • Rotation
  • Resisting Rotation
  • Resisting Lateral Flexion
  • Applying stress periodically to these four movement patterns at an appropriate difficulty will develop an extremely robust and strong core musculature over time. It’s really that simple.

    3. Exercise Selection

    Pick exercises which target these movement patterns, and apply stress to them through sets and repetitions and you’ll be able to build a strong core that might not only help get rid of your back pain but prevent you from getting it again. Exercises by no means have to be lower back exercises, although these should be incorporated, building an exercise routine should put emphasis on the whole body. Movement is medicine for people who have lower back pain so treating, yes treating back pain medically can be attempted, but it’s not a long term behavioural intervention.

    4. Use Progressive Overload

    Using progressive overload is one of the most effective techniques to make sure you see good results from your training. Progressive overload involves adding difficulty to a movement over time. This can be through weights, reps, sets, seconds, all these can be added to increase the difficulty of a movement.

    Developing a strong core musculature cannot be done over night, it will likely take 3-4 months of consistent exercising and resistance training to start to see the good impact of the training you’ve been doing. However, this isn’t work you’ll regret doing, having a strong core will not only help eradicate back pain but also make your day to day that much easier.

    Make sure you start at the beginning, if you are just getting into any sort of strength training only use exercises which are labelled beginner. If you are not used to complex or challenging exercises that you can’t perform with good technique you may actually make your back pain worse.

    5. Use A Variety Of Methods

    In terms of methods used to develop a strong core you can use a huge variety of lower back exercise, styles of exercises (static hold etc) and equipment set ups. You can do it with all bodyweight exercises or a full gym of equipment. Let’s have a look at a range of exercises you can use to strengthen your core to help relieve your back pain. These contain movements from all the key movement patterns that are essential to developing a strong core.

    Beginner Core Strengthening Session for Lower Back Pain

    Complete 3 rounds

    1. Single Arm Front Rack Carry

    Move for 10 meters

    2. Side Plank Lift

    Complete 6 repetitions

    3. Deadbugs

    Complete 12 repetitions

    Advanced Core Strengthening Session for Lower Back Pain

    Complete 3 rounds

    1. KB Windmill

    Complete 30 repetitions

    2. Plank Shift with Reach

    Complete 30 repetitions

    3. Long Lever Plank

    Hold for 30 seconds

    More Exercises to Help Ease Lower Back Pain

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Will Strengthening My Core Help My Lower Back Pain?

    In all likelihood it will. Having a strong core is one of the best predictors of not getting back pain and has also strengthening the core has been shown to treat lower back pain(2). It’s hard to say at what point it will start to help, but developing a strong core will help prevent lower back pain in the future. Remember to consult with a doctor before attempting any new exercise regime, especially if you have pain. You may want to get out of pain before starting to develop a strong core. Make sure you’re not doing any exercises that cause pain and always work round any injuries you have.

    Does A Weak Core Cause Pain In The Lower Back?

    This is a tough question without a definitive answer. All we know for sure is that having a strong core can prevent lower back pain. But this doesn’t mean that having a weak core causes lower back pain. Having a weak core might correlate with being very sedentary which could cause lower back pain. Chronic back pain is a complex issue that is being heavily researched at the moment. Trying to ease back pain or reduce low back pain will be very specific to you, you’ll need to get advice from medical professionals and attempt multiple behavioural interventions.

    Recourses

    core strengthening exercises for lower back nhs

    Core Strengthening Exercises for Lower Back For Seniors and Physiotherapy Exercises For Lower Back and Spine

    References

  • Foster, N., Anema, J., Cherkin, D., Chou, R., Cohen, S., Gross, D., Ferreira, P., Fritz, J., Koes, B., Peul, W., Turner, J., Maher, C., Buchbinder, R., Hartvigsen, J., Cherkin, D., Foster, N., Maher, C., Underwood, M., van Tulder, M., Anema, J., Chou, R., Cohen, S., Menezes Costa, L., Croft, P., Ferreira, M., Ferreira, P., Fritz, J., Genevay, S., Gross, D., Hancock, M., Hoy, D., Karppinen, J., Koes, B., Kongsted, A., Louw, Q., Öberg, B., Peul, W., Pransky, G., Schoene, M., Sieper, J., Smeets, R., Turner, J. and Woolf, A., 2018. Prevention and treatment of low back pain: evidence, challenges, and promising directions.  The Lancet , 391(10137), pp.2368-2383.
  • Searle, A., Spink, M., Ho, A. and Chuter, V., 2015. Exercise interventions for the treatment of chronic low back pain: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials.  Clinical Rehabilitation , 29(12), pp.1155-1167.
  • Thanks for reading. If you enjoyed this resource you can find more below, or try our Programme.

    Sean Klein

    Sean Klein's Signature

    Build Foundational Strength.
    Without The Planning.

    By learning from your training experience, past workouts and available equipment, Programme builds your most optimal workout plan that adapts to your progress.