Building Core Strength to Reduce Back Pain

The Importance of Strong Abdominal Muscles

Written by Graeme Keys, PT, Dip MDT

Core strengthening is more than just achieving six-pack abs. Developing strong abdominal muscles may actually help prevent back pain by making you less prone to back injuries and teaching you proper spinal alignment.

Many people have back pain—whether it's upper back pain or low back pain—and this may be partly caused by weak abdominal muscles. Since your abs are the front anchor of your spine, if they are weak, then the other structures supporting your spine (your back muscles, for example) will have to work harder. By developing stronger core muscles, you'll be less likely to injure or strain your back muscles.
Preventing back pain caused by muscle strain can be pretty simple—if you know how to avoid it in the first place. Other than maintaining good posture and developing core strength, there are a few key techniques that may help you steer clear of back pain:

The Significance of Core Strength
If you think about it, your core is in the center of your body. It needs to be strong to support the weight of your entire body, including your back and neck. Adding core strengthening to your exercise routine can help protect your back and neck. By boosting your core strength, you'll also be less likely to rely on other back pain treatments, such as medications.

It's important to incorporate exercises that work all of your abdominal muscles equally. Core exercises should involve the major muscles in your abdomen, including your internal and external obliques and the transverse abdominals.

Core Strengthening Exercises for Back Pain
Below are some examples of common abdominal exercises that can help you develop strong abs and prevent back pain.

These exercises and the number of repetitions are just suggestions. Talk to your doctor before incorporating these exercises into your exercise routine, and remember to listen to your body. If something doesn't feel right, stop immediately.

Elbow Plank

Abdominal Crunches


By doing these and other core exercises every day, you'll notice that your core strength leads to overall body strength.

In addition, there are certain types of exercise that can help you develop core strength, such as yoga  and Pilates.

It's also a good idea to work with a physical therapist. He or she can develop a specific exercise plan that involves core strengthening exercises and flexibility exercises to keep your spine healthy and help you maintain good posture.

Talk With Your Doctor
Have a conversation with your doctor as well. Your doctor will let you know if there are any exercises you should avoid or that may increase your back pain. As with any exercise, if you experience increased pain while doing core strengthening exercises, stop and call your doctor or physical therapist immediately.

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