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imgSuffering with lower back pain? There are ways to tackle it without resorting to drugs or surgery and strengthening your core muscles is one of them.

When our core muscles are weak, we’re more likely to have poor posture and this can make us more susceptible to lower back pain. The core of the body is the muscles in the pelvis, lower back, hips and abdomen. These muscles are the foundation of movement and essential for good posture and balance. Strengthening our core muscles can help with correct spinal alignment and prevent straining the muscles of the back.

Now, we’re not talking 400 sit-ups before breakfast every day here. Although exercises like ab crunches and planks do help to build a stronger core, there are more gentle ways of training your core muscles. Core exercises should involve the major muscles in the abdomen, including our internal and external obliques and our transverse abdominals. Yoga and pilates each have moves to train these core muscles. Lifting free weights while keeping the trunk of the body stable can help too.

The bridge is a classic exercise to build a stronger core. Here’s how you do it: lie on your back with your knees bent. Keep your back in a neutral position – not arched and not pressed into the floor, and avoid tilting your hips. Tighten your abdominal muscles and raise your hips off the floor until your hips are aligned with your knees and shoulders. Hold the position for as long as you can.

The wall sit is another good exercise that works the core: Stand 10 to 12 inches from the wall, then lean back until your back is flat against the wall. Slowly slide down until your knees are slightly bent, pressing your lower back into the wall. Hold for a count of 10, then carefully slide back up.

Click here for more recommended exercises for low back pain – plus some to avoid.

There are some great exercises using fitness balls on the Mayo Clinic website.

You might find The Telegraph’s ‘Back pain relief in just five minutes a day’ useful too.

We love this short video on a yoga-based workout for building a stronger core.

And this article on Peak Fitness considers four types of core strengthening and their effectiveness to treat back pain.

Remember to talk to your doctor before starting a course of exercise, or discuss it with your osteopath on your next visit to Good Health Centre.