Backing off Back Pain with 3 Simple Exercises
Friday, February 17, 2023

Struggling with low back pain? You’re not alone. Studies show that up to 84% of us will experience back pain at some point in our lives.

Aside from physical discomfort, low back pain is the international leading cause of disability. Not only does it cause mobility limitations, but also loss of work, wages and the ability to engage in the activities we love.

Does this mean we are doomed to years of pain medications, cortisone injections or even surgery to combat pain? Fortunately – no! A 2015 study found that costs associated with traditional back pain interventions can be reduced by up to 60% with early physical therapy. Even more promising, a 2018 study published in the Journal of Physical Therapy Science found that those who did the “McGill Big 3” exercises fared even better, with further reduced pain and improved function!

So, who is McGill and what are his “Big 3”?

Dr. Stuart McGill, largely regarded as the international expert on back pain, is a retired professor of the University of Waterloo who has spent decades researching rehabilitation. Simply, he has demonstrated that three exercises performed consistently can help build overall core strength, increase core stability, prevent injuries and reduce existing pain. Best of all, these exercises are easy to learn, simple to perform and can be done in the comfort of your own home without any equipment!

  1. Curl-Up
    • Lay flat on your back with one leg straight and the other leg bent at a 90-degree angle.
    • Place your hands under your low back for support.
    • Brace your core, tuck your chin and lift your shoulder blades a few inches off the ground.
    • Hold for 10 seconds, then rest. Repeat 6 times.
    • Alternate leg positions and repeat.
  2. Side Plank
    • Lie on your side with knees bent, resting on your forearm.
    • Lift your hips off the floor so that only your knee and arm are supporting your weight.
    • Hold for 10 seconds, then rest. Repeat 6 times.
    • Turn over to the other side and repeat.
  3. Bird Dog
    • Get on all fours (table-top or cat/cow position). Ensure that your arms are under your shoulders and knees are under your hips.
    • Brace your core, squeeze your glute and extend your left arm forward while kicking your right leg back.
    • Stop once your arm is level with your shoulder and your leg is level with your hips.
    • Hold for 10 seconds, then rest. Repeat 6 times.
    • Alternate arm and leg positions and repeat.

For best results, aim to perform these exercises at least three times a week. Need some assistance with form or perhaps a more challenging modification? Our personal trainers are happy to help. Learn about working with a trainer by attending a Back2Basics class or scheduling a free Equipment Orientation. Call 310-374-3426, Option 3 or stop by the front desk today.